The persistent “red tape” being encountered at borders within the Caribbean by Barbadian service sector professionals, is retarding the expansion of their businesses.
This was announced this morning by Executive Director of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries, Lisa Cummins, when she addressed the inaugural National Services Week at its Pine Plantation, St. Michael headquarters.
Stating that CARICOM was Barbados’ largest market for all goods, Cummins questioned whether border officials were understanding the spirit of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which made provision for the free movement of business people.
In fact, she explained that when business leaders travelled to neighbouring territories on temporary work assignments, they encountered little or no “red tape” neither did they have to answer a host of questions, if they ticked “pleasure” on the immigration form.
The BCSI executive director told reporters that some business persons had resorted to indicate they were travelling on pleasure visits, rather than business, and could not therefore take advantage of the benefits available to business professionals.
She said that a lot of work was now being done behind the scenes to reach a solution, including discussions with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Barbados’ CARICOM Ambassador, Robert “Bobby” Morris.
Cummins also revealed that her association had just concluded a meeting of Caribbean Network of Service Providers on a two-year
work programme. “All of this work has to lead to a solution,”
she added. The border impediments to
service industry providers has reached such a worrying stage, that the issue will take centre stage during the National Week, which runs from April 2 to 5.
She said the “week”, which would highlight the non-traditional services sectors, the enormous potential they hold for national economic growth and development, employment creation and foreign exchange generation, will feature a lecture series on freedom of movement in the region.
The series at the Grand Salle of the Tom Adams Financial Centre commences at 7 p.m. on April 2, and “will focus on the opportunities, challenges and solutions to the movement of people and business within CARICOM”.
“Many provisions made in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which allow for the movement of people and business, remain to date, misunderstood and under-utilised by many businesses and service providers,” Cummuns declared.
“This first lecture draws attention to regional integration, specifically the temporary movement of persons around which there has been significant debate as a result of various challenges with implementation. (EJ)