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The House of Representatives yesterday (Dec. 7) passed two companion Bills aimed at further preparing Jamaica to participate in the single market aspect of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), slated for implementation come January 1, 2005.
The Bills are the Caribbean Community Establishment, Services, Capital and Movement of Community Nationals Act 2004 and the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act.
Development Minister, Dr. Paul Robertson, who tabled the legislation, explained that the Caribbean Community Establishment.Nationals Act would allow Jamaica to fulfill its obligations under the revised Chapter Three of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
He informed further, that the Bill would permit nationals within CARICOM to establish businesses, provide services and move capital into and within Jamaica as well as outside the country and within the Caribbean Community.
Members of the Opposition, while noting that they understood the need for the law, questioned the country’s state of readiness to accede to the January 1 deadline, pointing out that nationals had not yet acquired full knowledge of the implications that an open market would have on business in general and employment.
They also asked that the administration clarify its position on becoming part of a Caribbean federation, noting that while the synchronization of legislation was important, there needed to be an open declaration of political intent.
Replying to this, Dr. Peter Phillips, National Security Minister and Leader of Government Business in the House, said that while the administration supported Caribbean integration, it had no intention of becoming part of a political union.
“The Cabinet of Jamaica has no policy, no intention to enter Jamaica into a federation,” he asserted. Furthermore he said, “there are many examples of a common market of synchronized economic policies, which have not resulted in the loss of sovereignty by the participating countries and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy will be one such.”
In addition, he said, “there is no step that can or will be taken that will not be approved by the sovereign Parliament of Jamaica.there is no logic in this Bill that leads to a federation and there is no intention that leads to federation.”
Minister Phillips further asserted that it was the view of the people of the Caribbean that there was benefit to be derived from the implementation of the CSME, in terms of increased standards of living and improved quality of life in the society, by combining the economic weight of the countries in the region. He also stressed, that acceding to the January 1 deadline did not mean that the CSME would be in full force but rather the single market aspect. The full CSME mechanism is slated for implementation in 2008.
Meanwhile, amendments to the Diplomatic Immunities Bill were passed with little debate. The Bill seeks to extend the privileges and immunities granted to persons under the current law to individuals, who will be functioning as a result of the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and international judicial institutions, subject to the discretion of the relevant minister.
Persons on whom these particular immunities will be conferred include judges, registrars, prosecutors, counsel, plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, experts and victims appearing before the CCJ and other related judicial bodies, the staff and other officials of the judicial institution.
Under the current law, diplomatic immunity is granted to heads of diplomatic mission, staff of diplomatic missions and the international court of justice.
A combination of 84 legislative and policy measures are to be effected by each country before the CSME can come on stream. Jamaica has so far completed 34.

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