Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 16, 2015 (SKNIS): Officials from the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and participants from the CSME student exchange programme from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College are in St. Kitts and Nevis as part of the CARICOM Secretariat’s public education thrust on regional integration specifically the CSME.
During a panel discussion held at the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS) Department, officials addressed the issue of free movement between countries and the notion of the markets being flooded.
“There is no flooding of the market,” explained Salas Hamilton, Communications Specialist at the CARICOM Secretariat CSME Unit. “In fact the research shows that you need to make a difference between the CSME regime relating to free movement versus persons who can move to a country under the work permit. Since 1997, countries have been administratively applying the free movement regime and our statistics have shown that if there is 100,000 work permits being issued at that time less than 10,000 have skilled certificates. That is the disparity. So you have to differentiate the categories who can move under the skills regime versus everyone who can move under the work permit.”
Also discussed was the issue of xenophobia. Mr. Hamilton stated that it is not limited to just one country.
“When you do the assessment of those who are really in the countries under the CSME, it really shows that the emotional speech that you are getting in terms of flooding of the markets, it’s not really so. However, you will always have the fears and I think that having the facts, engagement and conversation about what really is the CSME will elucidate in persons’ minds that someone can come but I can also go and I don’t have to go, I can stay here and establish my business under the services regime and get my income.”
He continued by saying that while the countries look at each other in terms of xenophobia there are many other countries that are taking advantage of the opportunities that we should as a CARICOM look for first.