In Jamaica last week, CARICOM Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to the full implementation of a single market and the free movement of people across the region through the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
At the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, held in Montego Bay from July 4 to 6, regional leaders agreed on ways to fast-track the CSME agenda. The Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on the CSME will meet quarterly from September 2018 to give urgency to the implementation process. The Protocol on Contingent Rights will also be adopted. This Protocol allows dependents of persons with approved Skilled Certificates to move freely across borders within the Caribbean with their loved-ones and to access basic social services.
Heads of Government also committed to advance those areas which were of “low hanging fruit” for a robust single market, such as an Investment Policy and Investment Code, an Incentives Regime, an Integrated Capital Market and Securities Legislation.
St Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr Timothy Harris called for an evaluation of the impact of free movement on member states.
The prime minister added that St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda can make valuable input as it relates to the free movement of people, since both countries receive a steady flow of persons from the Dominican Republic, some of whom are entitled to citizenship through the St Kitts and Nevis Constitution.
Dr Harris noted several challenges still to overcome, including the reluctance of some people to accept the idea of free movement because of its implications for social programmes, including health and education. There is also resistance to free movement given that “our students have to pay exorbitant sums and sometimes as much as three times the tuition of residents of territories with UWI campuses,” Dr Harris stressed.
Given the tangible benefits the region can actually experience from the establishment of the CSME, a special meeting with only the CSME on the agenda is scheduled for November 2018, in Trinidad and Tobago.