Senate Approves Five Bills for Implementation of Single Market


The Senate on Friday (December 17), sanctioned five Bills, which will enable Jamaica to participate in the first phase of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), scheduled for implementation on January 1, 2005.
Justice Minister and Attorney General, Senator A.J. Nicholson who piloted the Bills, said their passing fulfilled Jamaica’s commitment to early implementation of the Single Market, a decision also taken by Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. The remaining member states are set to implement their CSME regulations by December 2005.
The five Bills – ‘The Caribbean Community Establishment, Services, Capital and Movement of Community Nationals Act 2004’, ‘The Professional Engineers Registration Act’, ‘The Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act’, ‘The Architect Registration Act’ and the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act’ – speak to the free movement of goods, capital and people.
They also address the right of CARICOM nationals to establish businesses anywhere in the Caribbean, and the movement of certain categories of professionals and workers within the single market space.
The Single Economy is distinct from the Single Market. It is concerned with the co-ordination of trade and economic policies, with implementation set for December 31, 2007.
Senator Nicholson noted that the CSME represented an extension of the Jamaican domestic economy. The arrangement allows for the movement of nationals within five categories, namely University graduates, media practitioners, sports persons, artistes and musicians. Short term specialized service providers, such as consultants, will also be able to move freely. Over time, work permit requirements for these categories will be eliminated.
The Attorney General said already, work has begun on the establishment of mechanisms for certifying and establishing equivalency of degrees and certificates. A regional accreditation unit is to be created to manage the exercise.
In the meantime, The Caribbean Community Establishment, Services, Capital and Movement of Community Nationals Act 2004, gives effect to the right of nationals within CARICOM to establish businesses, provide services and move capital into and within Jamaica as well as outside the country and within the Community.
The Professional Engineers Registration Act will allow CARICOM nationals who are professional engineers, to be registered to practise engineering in Jamaica on the same basis as Jamaican citizens. It would also allow the Professional Engineers Registration Board in Jamaica to accept relevant work experience in any CARICOM country or any CARICOM member state as qualifying an applicant for registration.
The Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act 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 now be conferred include judges, registrars, prosecutors, counsels, plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, experts and victims appearing before an institution referred to in section 7 of the Act, which now will apply to the CCJ and other related judicial bodies.
Meanwhile, the amended Architects Registration Act removes the restrictions on the registration of citizens of other CARICOM member states as architects, discontinue the practice of registering organizations as architects and increase the penalties for unlawful practice of architecture and other breaches.
With modifications to the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act, Caribbean Community nationals no longer fall under the definition of ‘foreign national’.
Members of the Opposition, while noting that they understood the need for the legislation, questioned the country’s state of readiness to accede to theJanuary 1 deadline. They argued that appropriate systems to enable the smooth initiation of the mechanism would have to be put in place if the accession was to be successful, while calling on government members to address concerns where fiscal matters were concerned.
The full mechanism, the CSME is expected to begin operation in 2008.
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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