JIS News

Come December 31, 2008, when the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is fully implemented, there will be no need for CARICOM nationals to have permits or skills certificates to work in members states, as by then, every category of the workforce would be eligible to move freely.
Ivor Carryl, Programme Manager for CSME regional unit, made the disclosure as he addressed a discussion forum held recently at the Fellowship Tabernacle auditorium in Kingston.
Currently, artists and musicians, sportspersons, media workers, managerial, supervisory and technical staff, the self employed and university graduates can move freely without work permits. Others, who do not fall in those categories, such as plumbers, carpenters and so on, however, have to acquire work permits.
Meanwhile, Robert Miller, Head of the CSME unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, informed that Jamaica had completed work in some14 key areas to ensure single market compliance.
“To become single market ready, Jamaica passed the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (amendment) Act, which removed the work permit requirement for Commonwealth nationals and the Caribbean Court of Justice (Original Jurisdiction) Act, in 2005,” said Mr. Miller.
The Jamaican CSME unit head also noted that the country had signed off on the agreements establishing the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ); Transference of Social Security Benefits; and Intra-Regional Double Taxation, which states that CARICOM nationals working in host countries will only pay taxes once on their income.
Other CSM compliance achieved by Jamaica include: the removal of legal and administrative restrictions regarding the Right of Establishment for business, the provision of services and the movement of capital; and hassle-free intra-regional travel, of which one component is the designation of separate lines for CARICOM nationals and non-nationals at the individual country ports of entry.
Mr. Miller also noted that Jamaica has recently re-designed its immigration card to “capture core data agreed on at the regional level.”
Included in the CSM compliance regime is the presence of a national accreditation body, a competition body and an intellectual property body – all of which already exist in Jamaica.
It is important to note, that while Jamaica has reached compliance on some 14 key areas, this does not reflect the actual number of ensuing legislation, which is so far set at 371.
As Mr. Carryl explained, “often when work is begun on amending these legislation, it is discovered that another set of amendments would be needed. In other words, there is sometimes a spin-off or new issue introduced.”
On the issue of free movement of labour, Steven Mac Andrew, Specialist, Free Movement of Labour/Skills, informed that Barbados had so far issued some 1000 skills certificate to replace the work permit in the single market. Trinidad and Tobago, he said had issued more than 500 and Jamaica almost 400.
These figures, he said, do not represent a feared mass migration.
He also disclosed that a database to track the movement of people was developed by the CARICOM Secretariat in 2004 and that this tracking involved not only workers, but also criminals.
On the matter of social security, Mr. Mac Andrew informed that this would be subtracted from the CARICOM national’s pay whilst he/she was in the host country. “You must pay social security while in the host country. You don’t lose your NIS (National Insurance Scheme), though, all these are added up for when you go back home,” he said.
Mr. Mac Andrew also noted that for simplicity, there might eventually be one social security scheme in the region.
The discussion forum was held as part of the Secretariat’s US$7 million regional education campaign, which includes information-sharing visits to member states.
Salas Hamilton, communications specialist at the CSME regional unit, informed that 81 per cent of Jamaicans polled at a visit by the team last summer, had indicated that they needed more information on the single market and single economy. He said that the team would be returning to Jamaica in the summer.

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