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EDITORIAL – Good CSME news from Jamaica

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EDITORIAL – Good CSME news from Jamaica

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WITH ARRANGEMENTS being advanced for this month’s Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in Grenada, there has been encouraging news from Jamaica on the sticky issue of lingering barriers to implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) rules on employment of skilled Community nationals.
This past weekend, Jamaica’s Minister of Information Daryl Vaz announced a decision to “soon amend” the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act to facilitate employment of skilled CARICOM nationals (in nine categories).
With the exemption, Jamaica will become the second participating CSME state, after Guyana, to move in the direction of honouring the letter and spirit of the accord, reached more than three years ago, on intra-regional free movement of skilled nationals to help achieve objectives of an envisaged seamless regional economy.
The freedom of skilled nationals to work in any of the participating member states has been a recurring issue at Heads of Government conferences and ministerial meetings, leading last year to the submission of a “CSME Audit Report”.
The report was scheduled to be reviewed for action – including relevant legislative initiatives – during the last quarter of 20I0. It seems that Jamaica, under Prime Minister Bruce Golding, which held the six-month rotating chairmanship of the Community until the end of last year, has decided to do what is generally expected of all member states that have committed themselves to the realisation of the CSME.
The amendment would exempt skilled CARICOM nationals from requirement of a work permit to conduct business-related activities for 30 days on any one occasion or six months in a calender year.
Guyana had moved about two years ago to facilitate intra-regional free movement of CARICOM nationals to visit and remain in the country for between one and three months without having to seek an extension of stay from immigration authorities.
During this period, if the visiting Community national obtained employment then he/she must provide proof when applying for a work permit to remain in the country.
CSME implementation issues, including the freedom of skilled Community nationals to live and work in member states, are among matters to be considered at the forthcoming 22nd Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM leaders in Grenada from February 26 to 27.