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All remaining restrictions pertaining to the free movement of services, capital and establishment within the 12 member states of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), will be removed by June of this year, said David Lord, Senior Project Officer, CSME.
Mr. Lord, who was addressing the ‘Champions of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy Spokesperson Workshop’ for university students, held this morning (March 27) a the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, informed that Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago have removed substantially all restrictions, while all other member states were at different stages of the removal process.
As it regards the free movement of goods, he said that only very few unauthorized restrictions were still being maintained by some member states. These, he noted, were the revenue replacement duty by Belize; consumption tax by Antigua & Barbuda and Guyana; consent fee by Suriname; while Barbados, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Kitts and Nevis, maintained the environmental tax.
With respect to the free movement of university graduates, Mr. Lord informed the workshop participants that all member states, with the exception of Antigua and Barbuda, had already implemented legislation to facilitate this process. “With respect to other categories of workers, all member states, except Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis, have implemented the necessary measures,” he said.
With respect to other areas of the CSME, such as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the Senior Project Officer explained that 11 CARICOM states have already enacted the relevant legislation for its establishment, while the Regional Development Fund, to help countries that were at a disadvantage as a result of the CSME, was still to be established. Mr. Lord explained that the targeted total for the Fund was some US$250 million.
Another key area of the CSME is that of social security benefits, but according to Mr. Lord, persons could rest assured that the agreement on the transfer of social security benefits was fully operational in all member states. “CARICOM nationals are already receiving benefits under the agreement,” he pointed out.
Turning to the issue of the CARICOM passport, Mr. Lord reported that Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, and Suriname have already implemented this provision; Barbados and Guyana should come on stream by the end of the first quarter of this year and Trinidad & Tobago by July. Jamaica will implement the measure by December 2007.