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Prime Minister Bruce Golding has called on the thousands of Jamaicans living and working in Antigua and Barbuda to respect and co-operate with the rules and regulations which govern the islands. He reminded them that Jamaica and Antigua have always enjoyed good relations and he called on them to be good ambassadors for Jamaica.
Mr Golding last night (July 5) addressed close to two thousand Jamaicans at a meeting at the Antigua Multi-Purpose Centre in St John’s Antigua. The Prime Minister stayed back in Antigua after the end of the 4-day 29th regular meeting of the conference of heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), to meet and hear the concerns of Jamaicans in the islands of Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat. Among the areas of concern were issues relating to immigration restrictions and work permits. There are an estimated 12,000 Jamaicans living and working in Antigua and Barbuda and 150 Jamaicans in the island of Montserrat.
He told the gathering in Antigua that they should appreciate the fact that the island is a small one and that there are certain limitations that they must respect. He reminded them that they were in Antigua because their services were both needed and appreciated but there were certain rules and laws which they must respect . ‘Where there are issues, let’s discuss them and don’t let me hear that you are being disrespectful to the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda’, Mr Golding said.
Mr Golding also used the opportunity to address the concerns expressed by the Jamaicans in Antigua on issues such as free education, the energy crisis, job creation and the crime situation in Jamaica. He told them that the Government was looking at new measures to deal with the crime situation in Jamica.
“I want to ensure that when you leave Jamaica for Antigua and Barbuda to work and look new opportunities.. I want you know that your family is safe back home. I want to get Jamaica back to a point where we can walk the streets safely at night. If I can’t get Jamaica back to that then I am not worthy of the job you have given me”, he told the audience.
He told the Jamaicans that while they were contributing to the Antiguan society, they should never forget where they were coming from and that whenever they are ready to return home, Jamaica would welcome them. The meeting was also addressed by Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Ed Bartlett.