Prime Minister, Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, has announced that CARICOM is redoubling its efforts to strengthen freedom of movement.
This was among several announcements made by the Prime Minister at a press conference on Monday, July 23rd, 2018, during which he reported on his meeting with fellow CARICOM heads held on July 4-6, 2018.
The Prime Minister announced that under the CSME framework, CARICOM nationals can travel for up to 6 months with no impediments, providing they comply with security procedures and are not a charge on the said Government.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Gonsalves said CARICOM heads have identified 10 categories which are eligible to seek employment within member states. According to Dr. Gonsalves, the categories include: holder(s) of university degrees, entertainers, sports and media personnel, teachers and domestic workers. He reiterated that persons should have their CARICOM Skills Certificate or Caribbean Vocation Qualification (CVQ).
Dr. Gonsalves acknowledged that a major challenge still exists where freedom of movement is concerned. He said decisions made at CARICOM meetings take time to filter down to Immigration Officers and problems arise when persons try to enter certain member states.
Regarding this country’s proposed marijuana industry, Dr. Gonsalves said CARICOM’s Marijuana Commission has released a report sanctioning member states to forge their own paths, keeping in mind their international obligations. This Government, Prime Minister Gonsalves stated, is finalizing three draft Bills for publication with a view to presenting the final Bill to Parliament in mid-August.
Moving away from CARICOM matters, Prime Minister Gonsalves, who has responsibility for Aviation, also announced that Cuba and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are about to sign an air services agreement. This, following his meeting from July 12-15, 2018, with Cuban President, Miguel Diaz Canel.
Following his state visit to Cuba, Dr. Gonsalves travelled to New York for several meetings. He disclosed that this country’s Ambassador to the UN, H.E. Rhonda King, is the new chair of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). He noted that “Saint Vincent’s representatives at the UN are doing a very good job”.
Also, Dr. Gonsalves disclosed that he met with American Airline (AA) officials who came to the AIA to conduct preliminary checks prior to their operations in December. He reported that they were extremely pleased with what they saw and gave good reviews of the airport.
Prime Minister Gonsalves said he will depart for a state visit to Japan from August 3-9. His wife, Mrs. Eloise Gonsalves and Director General of Finance, Mr. Edmond Jackson, will accompany him on the visit.