JIS News

A CARICOM passport is to be introduced by December this year, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh has said.
He said this would be done as a symbol of regionalism and visible proof of the region’s common identity, and to promote hassle-free travel within member countries.
Making his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 25, Dr. Baugh said the new passport would be similar to the existing Jamaican passport, with the exception that the words, Caribbean Community, would appear on the cover page.
The Minister pointed out that the CARICOM passport would exist alongside national passports until they expire.
He also categorically dispelled any notion that the Government is reluctant to embrace the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and its key institution, the Competition Commission; the CARICOM Development Fund and its subsidiary body, the Regional Development Agency.
“There is sometimes lingering doubt as to the Jamaica Labour Party’s commitment to CARICOM, borne out of a decision taken on behalf of the Jamaican people some 47 years ago. That was a different time and different circumstances and I would like to categorically dispel any notion that there is any reluctance on the part of this Government to strengthen and deepen ties with other countries of the region,” Dr. Baugh said.
He further re-affirmed Jamaica’s deep commitment to the regional integration process, contending that it would enhance Jamaica’s economic growth and development prospects and bring about more effective integration of CARICOM into the global economy, in terms of developing greater competitiveness, offering a wider range of products to a wider market, moving into new areas, such as export services, and becoming more active in international trade negotiations.
Turning to what he called the ‘centrepiece’ of the integration process, Dr. Baugh said the establishment of the CSME “is intended to give the region of small states the benefits of greater critical mass through economic integration, with the consequential benefits of pooled resources and the expansion of the domestic market to over 15 million persons.”
He added that through the CSME, people, skills and capital could move freely in the region and facilitate trade in services, stating that, “this means therefore, that the Jamaican dentist, engineer, carpenter, hairdresser, banker, architect, plumber, consultant, and self-employed service providers, for example, should have the right to establish businesses or provide a service wherever they choose in the region.” He pointed out that the establishment of a regional Accreditation Body to oversee the equivalency of qualifications is still to be finalized.
In fulfilling Jamaica’s obligations, he said much work has been done on key areas, particularly in relation to the CSME, citing for example, the passage of new pieces of legislation and the amendment of existing ones, as well as the steps being taken to remedy the inefficiencies in the administrative process in a number of areas.
The Competition Commission, a key institution of the CSME, will administer and enforce the Community Competition Policy, to ensure that the benefits expected from the establishment of the CSME are not frustrated by anti-competitive business conduct. The Competition Commission became fully operational on January 18, 2008.
The CARICOM Development Fund and its subsidiary body, the Regional Development Agency, will provide financial and technical assistance to disadvantaged countries, sectors and regions of the Community that are impacted by the implementation of the CSME.
Informing that the CDF is expected to be operational by the third quarter of 2008, Dr. Baugh said the entity would be the focal point for programming the technical assistance needs of member states. “Jamaica looks forward to playing a critical role in the operation of the CDF,” the Minister said.

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