JIS News

When the region signs the official documents to implement the CARICOM Single Market (CSM) later this month, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will become the newest trade bloc, joining the approximately 194 other trade blocs in the fight to ensure market survival.
Prime Minister P. J. Patterson has hailed the institution, noting that it would serve to deepen regional cooperation and help the region overcome constraints of small size and lack of resources.
The Prime Minister, addressing a meeting of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in August, said that with the advantage of a larger market size, “our ability to effectively penetrate markets outside of CARICOM will be crucial in achieving a sustainable competitive advantage. This will result in unprecedented market access for our products and services and an expansion in our businesses, large and small, traditional and non-traditional”.
He said that with new investments and expanded businesses “we envisage economic growth and employment and ultimately higher standards of living for our people”.
Speaking at a meeting with private sector interests, the Prime Minister noted that the CSME was not the final horizon for the region, but that it would serve as an effective platform on which to expand the trade and economic capacity of the Caribbean.
He pointed out that the financial services sector had an integral role to play in the process and has urged Jamaican stakeholders to remain at the forefront of the developments and take advantage of the opportunities that are available. Mr. Patterson said the advent of the CARICOM Single Market has created opportunities for Jamaican financial entities to establish a presence throughout the region, as they would benefit from the same rights and obligations as their domestic counterparts in participating member states. With regards to the creation of a monetary union and a single currency, the Prime Minister said the emphasis at this time was on getting the fundamentals right, within the framework of the Single Market. He said this must be done while at the same time examining the scope for a monetary union as part of the broader efforts to achieve the Single Economy.
Mr. Patterson said the region was cognizant of the longstanding attainment and success of a monetary union by member states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and anticipated that the OECS would share its experience with the wider Caribbean.
Parliament last year approved the legislation for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) but only after much public and Parliamentary debate.
The CCJ is to serve as the institutional centrepiece of the CARICOM Single Market, but many have criticized the constitutionality of the state’s move to pass laws, which would abolish appeals to the Privy Council and substitute a right of final appeal to the CCJ. The legislation would have also provided for the establishment of the original jurisdiction of the CCJ to deal with matters pertaining to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
The matter was taken to the Privy Council last year and when the court handed down its decision in February, the key question identified by the Privy Council was whether the procedure adopted in enacting that legislation complied with the requirements laid down in the constitution.
In reaching its judgment, the Privy Council specifically said that it had no difficulty in accepting, and did not doubt, that the CCJ Agreement represented a serious and conscientious endeavour to create a new regional court of high quality and complete independence, enjoying all the advantages that a regional court could hope to enjoy. Mr. Patterson pointed out that the Privy Council had accepted that the Jamaican Parliament could abolish appeals to the Privy Council by a simple majority of its members following the procedure that had been adopted.
“However, it held that the legislation to establish the CCJ as the final court of appeal should have been passed by another procedure. It should have been passed by the procedure appropriate for amending an entrenched provision, which would require, among other things, an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of each House of Parliament,” he stated.
The Privy Council held that since the Acts were put forward as a package, and since it was not the intention of Parliament to abolish appeals to the Privy Council without replacing it with the right of appeal to the CCJ, the two could not be separated. The Prime Minister said that the decision would affect not only Jamaica, but other countries in the region with similar constitutional arrangements.
He noted that some CARICOM states had passed legislation to establish the CCJ as a court of original jurisdiction to deal with single market matters and that others were actively in the process of doing so. “We will therefore have to have consultations with all our CARICOM partners concerning the way forward with respect to the establishment of this court as a tribunal for the resolution of issues concerning the CARICOM Single Market and Economy,” he said. He noted that the Jamaican government remained committed to the establishment of the CCJ as the country’s final appellate court and intended to take the necessary steps, arising from the Privy Council decision to honour commitments to the Jamaican people and partners in the region.
After deliberations with the Opposition and other stakeholders, both Houses of Parliament finally gave approval to the much deliberated Caribbean Court of Justice (Original Jurisdiction) Act 2005, in time for the official inauguration of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on April 16 in Trinidad.
Prime Minister Patterson and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, K. D. Knight attended the ceremony.
Earlier in the year, the headquarters of CARICOM was opened in Guyana on February 19 and the Prime Minister hailed the occasion as a tangible manifestation of the achievements and commitment of the people of the Caribbean.
“It embodies the spirit and vision of the fathers and mothers of our Community, who travelled those difficult early miles to lay the foundation for a Community of which we can be justly proud,” he said.
In December, Prime Minister Patterson made a donation of $2 million to the Matthew 24:40 hospice for children living with HIV/AIDS to cover the expense of caring for children infected with the disease. Mr. Patterson made the donation following a tour of the facility operated by the Mustard Seed Communities, as part of activities to mark World AIDS Day. Mr. Patterson also presented a cheque for $35,000 to sponsor the care of a child at the hospice.
He commended the Mustard Seed Communities for its work in caring for children living with HIV/AIDS, noting that the innocent and the most vulnerable in the society “do not deserve to fight for their lives”.
He assured the Mustard Seed Communities and organizations involved in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS that they could count on all possible support from the government.

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