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Jamaica's CARICOM Review Commission begins its work

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday July 6, 2016 – Jamaica’s Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Review Commission, chaired by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding held its first meeting today yesterday, beginning its work, as regional leaders met on the first business day of their 37th Regular Meeting in Guyana.

The Commission will evaluate the effects that Jamaica’s participation in CARICOM has on its economic growth and development, and will solicit feedback from the public. It is expected to submit a final report within six months.

Jamaica has been a member of CARICOM for 43 years. However, there have been much-publicized incidents, as well as complaints by Jamaicans, regarding treatment of Jamaican nationals in other Member States and trade imbalances, that have spurred debate on whether the island is benefitting from being a member of CARICOM.

“Jamaica has raised, within this forum and outside, the question about the treatment of our citizens arriving at various ports of entry,” Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said yesterday during the plenary meeting.

“I believe, Mr. Chairman [Prime Minister of Dominica the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit], that our complaints have been heard, and I am pleased to report that we are making progress.”

Holness said that he gets a “genuine sense that there is a concern about this in the region” and that there is “a willingness to show brotherliness and respect for the Caribbean citizen.”

“I was deeply concerned when I saw reports in a local newspaper of Jamaicans asking ‘So what is the value of having CARICOM on our passport?’…So, Mr. Chairman, we have taken a strategic approach in Jamaica to establish a Commission on CARICOM so that Jamaicans can have a voice, but that the voice can be guided by expert views and strategic thinking to preserve the strength of this very important forum.”

The Prime Minister reiterated that his country wants to see a strong, robust integration movement that is built on a mutual interest in seeing the prosperity of the people.

Meantime, Holness also disclosed at the opening ceremony on Monday, that Jamaica is negotiating a Joint Commission Agreement with Trinidad and Tobago with the objective of developing a mutually beneficial cooperation programme.

“We intend to undertake similar initiatives with other Member States,” he said.

He noted that strengthening bilateral relations is an important element of the regional relationship, and is an issue that members of CARICOM should give more attention.

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

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