J'cans working in CARICOM states can now take dependents
Jamaica is among six Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states that signed the Protocol on Contingent Rights last Friday. The contingent rights measure will allow for persons who work across the region to have their spouses and children join them in those jurisdictions.
Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada, Suriname, and Haiti also signed the accord on the final day of the three-day Regular Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.
"This is where it matters. This is where it makes a difference to the lives and decisions of people," commented Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, who has lead responsibility for the CSME. She described the protocol as the most significant event in the history of Caribbean affairs since the single market was signed in Jamaica and came into effect in 2006.
At the same time, Mottley defended a decision by the heads of government to delay further discussions on other critical elements of the single market until later this year.
CARICOM chairman Prime Minister Andrew Holness also dismissed the notion that the leaders of CARICOM had dithered once again on some core issues relating to the single market.
"Meeting again is not kicking the can down the road. We left here today with major achievements which advanced the Caribbean Single Market and move us towards the CARICOM Single Market and Economy," Holness said last Friday.
He cited the signing of contingent rights as a tangible way for Caribbean nationals to experience true integration.
Progress was also made on the protocol for the refusal of entry of citizens, reported Holness, noting that many Jamaicans have had challenges entering some regional jurisdictions.
He said that his counterparts, Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago and Mottley of Barbados, had made progress on the protocol and agreed that it must be implemented.
"Yes, there can be ... frustration that whenever we meet upon a blockage towards a decision, we say, 'Okay, let's meet again'. But it should not be interpreted as kicking the can down the road," Holness insisted.
"The leaders have a duty to bring together the Community, and I think that what we say today is that the leaders were prepared to go back, consult, debate, and then meet again."