Caribbean workers may move freely within Caricom by month-end

The Barbados Advocate, Friday August 22 2003

The ability for Caribbean workers to move and work freely within CARICOM without work permits should be a reality by month end.

According to Desiree Field-Ridley, head of the Barbados-based CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) unit, five categories of persons will benefit from the development as the region moves towards CSME status.

The categories are artists, sportsmen, musicians, media workers and university graduates.

Field-Ridley made the comments in Jamaica last week during a workshop on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), held in conjunction with the Freiedrich Ebert Stiftung at the Knutsford Court Hotel.

The free movement will however be for specified terms and contracts and will not be an encouragement for those intent on setting up residence, Field-Ridley said.

The advisor to the Single Market and Sectoral Programmes at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat said the agreement would follow the approval of the implementing legislation covered under the Caribbean Community Free Movement of Skilled Persons Act.

Field-Ridley noted that the Jamaican ministries of foreign affairs and foreign trade, health, labour and social security, as well as the relevant line agencies were now consulting on amendments to be made in relation to persons falling outside the scope of the Act.

Eventually all citizens can move freely throughout the region, she said.

Other future aims include the elimination of the need for passports for CARICOM nationals for travel within the region. They will hopefully be replaced by the use of an ID card.

These moves form part of initiatives towards the establishment of the CSME which is expected to be established in Jamaica, as well as Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago by December 2004 and across the entire region by 2005.