T&T feeling the strain
PORT OF SPAIN – The Trinidad and Tobago government says the influx of thousands of illegal Jamaicans into the country is putting a strain on its resources, resulting in the loss of more than a billion dollars (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) annually.
Minister of National Security Gary Griffith in a statement supporting the actions of immigration officers to deport 13 Jamaicans last month, said the authorities cannot act as a “rubber stamp” when it comes to allowing people into the country.
“It is to be noted that at this present time, there are more than 19 000 Jamaicans
in Trinidad and Tobago who have entered at legitimate ports of entry, but who have remained illegally and cannot be accounted for,” Griffith said.
He described the statistics as “alarming”, saying that “these people are dependent on state resources such as education and health care, may be employed and are not subject to taxes, which amounts to a loss of revenue of over $1 billion per annum”.
Last week, the main opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) called on the Portia Simpson Miller government to immediately address reports that Jamaican nationals were being harassed on visiting Trinidad and Tobago.
JLP spokesman on foreign affairs and foreign trade Edmund Bartlett said he also wanted the government to deal with “increasing incidence of harassment and demeaning treatment of Jamaicans attempting to visit CARICOM member states”.
Bartlett, in a statement, called on Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
A.J. Nicholson to address the situation in Trinidad and Tobago, saying “this is the latest of a series of similar complaints by our citizens attempting to be landed in these countries about crude, uncivil and embarrassing treatment by our regional partners.
“Certainly, if the provisions of the Treaty Of Chaguaramas are to be taken seriously, particularly as it relates to freedom of movement, then . . . Nicholson must move to protect our nationals’ rights to travel within CARICOM and to be treated decently and with respect,” he said.
Bartlett said that if Jamaicans cannot be accorded respect and dignity, then the meaning of regional integration is “hollow and a farce” and could lead to renewed calls for Jamaica to leave the 15-member CARICOM grouping. (CMC)