The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the 15-member regional integration grouping. Skilled persons are entitled to move and work freely throughout the region once granted a CARICOM Recognition of Skills Qualification (CRSQ).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the work is being spearheaded by its Trade Agreement Implementation Coordination Unit, responsible for directing and monitoring Jamaica’s obligations under the CSME.
Head of the unit, Symone Betton-Nayo, said that discussions have been held with officials in Barbados and In March visited the island to observe CSME-related activities under a focal point exchange programme organised by the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat, aimed at promoting greater understanding of the CSME among member states.
During the five day visit, she met with senior government officials as well as officers of the Immigration Department, and the Barbados Accreditation Council (BAC), which is responsible for verifying skills certificates.
“That joint meeting was very, very useful because they are both two critical entities to the free movement process,” she said, telling the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that efforts were made to address some of the challenges faced by Jamaicans to get their skills certificates verified when moving to Barbados.
CARICOM nationals can apply for a skills certificate in the host or home state under the CARICOM Free Movement of Persons Act, 1997.
“I raised the issue of the verification process, the length of time it takes to verify but not only that, the process of verification, which appears to be costly and time consuming,” Mrs. Betton-Nayo said, adding that the skills certificates issued by Jamaica would already have gone through “the rigours of our application system” and they are all signed by the Minister of Labour and Social Security.
“So, you must be able to trust that whatever certificate goes through that system, it is bona fide, it is authentic and on the basis of that (the host country) should be able to now carry out its verification function rather than having to repeat that process through its own verification system.”
She said the slow verification process was acknowledged by the Barbadian officials, but they also emphasised the importance of carrying out “quality infrastructure functions.”
The CSME Focal Point for Barbados, Paula Byer, had visited Jamaica on a similar mission to hold meetings with public and private sector entities administering the five CSME regimes, namely: the free movement of goods, the free movement of skills, the free movement of capital, the provision of services, and the right of establishment.
There have also been successes in addressing the problem of nationals being denied entry to Trinidad and Tobago.
ister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade,. Kamina Johnson Smith, said earlier this year there has been an 82 per cent reduction in the number of Jamaicans turned away from the country.
“This is a great success…it has required work between the Governments of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. It has required work by our mission in Trinidad and it has required work by our team here,” she noted.
She said Port of Spain has also kept its commitment to retrofit an area in the Piarco International Airport to comfortably accommodate persons, who are not landed, while they await return to their country of origin.
In addition, she reported that at least two rounds of training have been conducted for immigration officials at the airport and “we have been working closely with the Government of Trinidad on improving the ability of our business persons to export to Trinidad, by re-establishing a trade desk within the Jamaican High Commission.”
The Foreign Minister said businesspeople are reporting an improvement in attitude as they seek to do business in Trinidad.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is also engaging citizens in CSME sensitisation sessions to apprise them of the travel and employment guidelines within CARICOM countries so as to ensure that persons are fully aware of the rules and requirements so that they can have a positive experience when they travel.
“We want to make a qualitative difference and their understanding of the CSME, how it works, how it functions and how it can benefit them. So, that is a priority focus of the Ministry for this year,” Mrs. Betton-Nayo said.
- Countries: Jamaica