Address CARICOM issues - Mahfood urges new review commission
Equity and freedom of movement among members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are among the areas of concern the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) wants addressed by the newly formed commission set up to review the impact of the regional body over the years.
The CARICOM Review Commission, which will be chaired by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, was launched Tuesday at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Andrew.
William Mahfood, the PSOJ president, made reference to recent incidents where Jamaicans were denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago, saying there are urgent issues that must be given priority.
"It's (the commission) long overdue. The truth is, I have nothing against Trinidad, I only want to see that we live in an integrated state where there is equity, meaning that a Jamaican can go and work in Trinidad if a factory is there that is producing products to come to Jamaica," he said.
"Equity means that somebody can work in agriculture in Guyana, and somebody from Guyana can come here and work. In our minds, that is equity. The movement of people, the movement of goods, the movement of money."
He added: "If it is fully integrated as it is intended to be, then CARICOM will be a very strong force."
Golding, in his comments, said he would be moving swiftly to address the successes and failures of CARICOM and how it has impacted development in Jamaica.
He said the first meeting will be held next Tuesday.
"We are mindful of the considerable work that this assignment entails. There are topical issues such as trade practices and the treatment of Jamaicans when they travel to other CARICOM countries. We will naturally have to analyse it but, as we understand, the review involves much more than that at a broader and deeper level," Golding said.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his remarks, also noted that there has to be a deep analysis of the movement in order for real development to take place.
"I decided to set up this commission because, after 50 years of Independence as a nation and more than 30 years at attempting regional integration, I believe it is time we take a second look at the institution which frames the architecture of Jamaica," the prime minister said.
"It's not the intention to lay any groundwork or charge any path out of CARICOM. This is about strengthening Jamaica's position within the regional integration process, which is absolutely important for Jamaica's economic growth," he charged.