House Approves Caribbean Community Act, 2004


The House of Representatives gave the nod to a Bill on Tuesday (March 9) allowing Jamaica to ratify and consequently implement the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Titled an ‘Act to Repeal the Caribbean Community and Common Market Act (2004)’, the Bill makes provision for giving effect to the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas as the constituent legal instrument of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The legislation is aimed at improving the standards of living and work of the peoples of the Caribbean, implementing full employment of labour and other factors of production and the expansion of trade and economic relations.
The Act also seeks to enhance levels of international competitiveness of the Caribbean Member States and the organization of the States with the aim of increasing production and productivity.
It is also intended to achieve a greater measure of economic leverage and effectiveness of Member States in dealing with third States, groups of States and entities of any description.
The Caribbean and Common Market Act (2004) also seeks to enhance functional co-operation, including more efficient operation of common services and activities for the benefit of its peoples; accelerated promotion of greater understanding among its peoples and the advancement of their social, cultural and technological development.
It will also intensify activities in areas such as health, education, transportation and telecommunication.
Making his contribution to the debate on the Bill, Minister of Development, Dr. Paul Robertson said, “the enactment of the Caribbean Community Act is a positive development in the interest of Jamaica and the Caribbean at this time”.
While supporting the Bill, Member of Parliament for St. James East Central, Edmund Bartlett raised concern about the poor public education programme to highlight the CSME islandwide.
He pointed out, “this is perhaps the most significant integrated measure that comes to this House, which is so significant that (it) radically changes the relationship between our neighbours, but to make the issue of public education the last item on the Schedule tells us how much the region has been educated on the CSME”.
Continuing he said, “tell me how much the little people know about the CSME. but yet the CSME will have tremendous impact on their lives and they know nothing about it”.
Addressing this concern, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, K.D. Knight, who piloted the Bill said, “I want to assure that public education is high on the agenda. I am the first to let you know that right across the region that there is a degree of dissatisfaction as to where we have reached with it. So there are attempts being made now to really strengthen the public education programme”.
He however noted that public education programme should be carried out at both the national and regional levels. He said this would be done through a public education programme called Radio CARICOM, which was launched in Belize earlier this week.
“Radio CARICOM will operate in four and five countries in the beginning but then move right across. It is to get the CARICOM message out,” the Minister said.
He said that Radio CARICOM is affiliated to the local religious station, Love FM. Minister Knight also argued that public education should be a two-way stream where the voice of the people would inform the actions of the Government.
Addressing concerns raised also by Mr. Bartlett on the slow implementation of CSME in other Member States, Minister Knight said “there ought to be greater urgency in bringing this into being”.
He informed that three countries, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados had however taken up the challenge to do so. “These three countries have accelerated the process of the implementation of the CSME. We have committed to implementation by December 31, 2004 whilst the programme for the other territories is for December 31, 2005.”
The CSME was created by amending the 1973 Treaty of Chaguaramas, which established the Caribbean Community and Common Market. The original Treaty was amended by nine protocols, which were negotiated among the CARICOM member states over several years. The Protocols were then consolidated into the Revised Treaty.
The Minister said that while the legislation would enable the implementation of obligations contained in the Revised Treaty, additional legislation would be required to implement specific obligations arising from Jamaica’s participation in the CSME.
Some of these obligations include measures relating to the regional competition commission, and consumer protection. Mr. Knight indicated that a Bill would be tabled in the House soon, regarding the latter.
All CARICOM member states, with the exception of Montserrat, have now signed the Revised Treaty. It will come into force when all the states have deposited their instruments of ratification with the CARICOM Secretary General.

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