Addressing a news conference at Piarco International Airport upon his return, Rowley hinted at the possibility of a policy re-think of the arrangements between Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica in relation to Caribbean Airlines.
The T&T Prime Minister recalled that Caribbean Airlines (CAL) acquired Air Jamaica under certain conditions, including the expectations that CAL would carry out certain kinds of services out of Jamaica. “There is some thinking that we have not capitalised on that aspect of the arrangement,” Rowley said.
Rowley observed that there seemed to be “a bit more appetite for a regional airline” where CAL becomes the regional carrier of more than one nation. He said in such a scenario, “those who are going to come with us are going to carry their responsibilities.”
The Prime Minister said TT does not expect that Air Jamaica would be “silent, non-participating partner in the business” and anything that CAL has to do in terms of expanding its footprint, “that additional responsibility will not lie solely on the shoulders of taxpayers of TT.”
He emphasized that added opportunities for Caribbean Airlines could redound to the benefit TT and Jamaica.
Since the merger of Air Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines, all evidence of Air Jamaica as a part of CAL has slowly disappeared.
This includes the removal of the Air Jamaica logo on the CAL aircraft on which they were painted.
In addition, all the profitable routes which Air Jamaica serviced have now been surrendered to other airlines by CAL and a martked reduction in the service to Montego Bay from other destinations by the airline.
Rowley also told the media that evidence of his success could be seen in the repatriation of some Jamaica nationals detained in TT and other Jamaican nationals who are soon to be repatriated.
Rowley said TT was able to demonstrate that the few Jamaican citizens detained in this country were being held in conditions that were legal and physical conditions that were acceptable.
In addition, several Jamaicans who overstayed their time in TT have been processed and repatriated.
Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Minister Dennis Moses said of 40 Jamaicans who were detained in TT, 15 have been repatriated over the last two weeks. Moses added that 20 other Jamaicans have been processed and are “awaiting tickets to return to Jamaica.”
Indicating this and other matters were causing TT-Jamaica relations to deteriorate and if left unattended, Rowley said, “could result in some very undesirable consequences for TT and Jamaica.”
“We left Jamaica with the understanding that this matter was now behind us.” Saying persons in Jamaica who were raising these concerns are satisfied there was no basis for them.
As new prime ministers in their respective rights, Rowley said the visit was an opportunity for Holness and himself, “to discuss these matters from a reset standpoint.” A signed joint communique issued by the Office of the Prime Minister said Rowley and Holness held bilateral talks on matters such as immigration and consular matters, trade, energy, air services, implementation of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) and, “importantly, general strengthening of relations between the two countries.”
The communique said both prime ministers agreed that their discussions over the last four days had been, “meaningful and illuminating.” Rowley and Holness, promised to engage as often as necessary, “to maintain the momentum towards cementing the bonds of friendship and cooperation vital for the advancement of their economies and the well-being of their citizens.” On security, Rowley said, “Our personnel will work more closely in ensuring that Jamaica knows what is happening in TT and TT knows what is happening in Jamaica.
We share all information that has the interest of securing both countries and anywhere else in the region for that matter.” Rowley and Holness supported a review of the Caricom Crime and Security Services (CCSS) as well as other measures to stem criminal activities in relation to transnational organised crimes, such as money laundering, small arms and illegal narcotics.
On CSME implementation in both countries, Holness indicated Jamaica has amended its legislation regarding the free movement of skilled Caricom nationals to recognise all agreed categories of workers. Rowley said categories of workers not yet provided for in this country’s existing legislation are facilitated administratively.
Hinting at the possibility of increasing the categories of workers who could be accredited under the CSME. the The Prime Minister said a “managed movement of such persons would be to the benefit of the countries who desire such persons.”
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