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JIS News

Officials assisting the progress of the CARICOM Single Market (CSM), have said that one of the main reasons behind the push for full free movement of skills/labour in the region, is the increasing demand from bourgeoning regional industries.
With success examples, such as RBTT Bank, which has increased its earnings from US$3 million in 1990 to a projected US$160 million for the 2005/06 fiscal year, regional expansion has been a growing phenomenon, especially since the 1980s.
“The essence of the movement towards integration ought to be the movement of people. Business must have the right to pull people from anywhere in the region,” Senator Delano Franklyn, State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, told JIS News recently.
Ivor Carryl, Programme Manager of the CSME Regional Unit echoed the Senator’s view when he along with members from the CSME regional unit of the CARICOM Secretariat spoke to JIS News recently.
According to Mr. Carryl, the formalization of the CARICOM Single Market (CSM) would encourage an increase in entrepreneurship, which would also mean an increase in the demand for labour within the region. The expected increase in the demand for labour, he said, was a major reason behind the push to fast track the free movement of skills/labour, under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
As stated by the CARICOM Secretariat, the expected date for the total free movement of labour is December 31, 2008. But as Steven MacAndrew, Specialist, free movement of Skills/Labour at the regional unit noted, emphasis would be placed on increasing the qualified categories for free movement in 2006.
“Dominican Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerritt, who has lead responsibility for free movement, has indicated that beginning this year, the categories will be expanded, so that by 2008, everyone will be able to move freely,” Mr. MacAndrew disclosed.
More specifically, Mr. MacAndrew explained that in this year, persons with associate degrees, diplomas and CXC qualifications, would be included amongst those qualified to move freely.
As indicated by Tim Nafziger, Executive Chairman of MediaNet Limited, publishers of www.Caribbeaninvestor.com in Trinidad and Tobago, in his article, ‘Rumours of the Death of the CSME have been Grossly Exaggerated’, which appeared in the December/January issue of the English magazine, ‘World Finance’, regional conglomerates and other CARICOM entrepreneurs see the free movement of labour as an important tool in their competitive productivity.
Arguing that the single market has been in existence before its January launch, Mr. Nafziger listed CARICOM companies that have benefited from regional operation.
Included in the almost 100 listed companies in the English speaking Caribbean stock exchange are: GraceKennedy Limited, the first company to cross-list in the Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaican and Barbadian Stock Exchanges; and Prestige Holdings, which operates the KFC, Pizza hut, TGI Friday franchises in Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Barbados and Jamaica.
Trinidad Cement which, according to Mr. Nafziger, was operating at a loss as a publicly-owned company in Trinidad and Tobago, began acquiring plants in Jamaica and Barbados after becoming privatized, and are now the exclusive regional supplier of cement, is also included in the list of Caribbean companies that have become regional institutions. Also on the list are: Sagicor, formerly Barbados Mutual which, after its 2003 listing on the regional stock exchange, acquired Island life, Life of Jamaica and Guardian Holdings Limited. It had also made rapid acquisitions in Trinidad, Jamaica, the Netherland Antilles, USA and Europe in 2000.
According to Mr. Nafziger, none of the companies highlighted could have “amassed the scale and scope of business by continuing to operate only in their home island in the business environment of this period”.
He stressed that these companies and others still needed the full realization of the free movement clause for optimal productivity.
“All of these businesses operate as if the CSME has been fully implemented, but they need the free movement of people provided under the Treaty, to effectively manage and develop their manpower source,” wrote Mr. Nafziger.