The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

The Min­istry of Trade, En­ergy and Em­ploy­ment has launched the CSME Re­port Card, a bi-an­nu­ally hosted press con­fer­ence that will serve as a di­rect re­port­ing mech­a­nism from CSME touch­point agen­cies to Do­mini­cans, in part­ner­ship with lo­cal me­dia. Co­or­di­nated by the CARICOM/ CSME Desk within the Min­istry of Trade, the CSME Re­port Card launch was an open­ing high­light of the Me­dia CSME train­ing work­shop, hosted on Fe­bru­ary 25th. Ap­prox­i­mately thir­teen jour­nal­ists and me­dia man­agers were on hand to re­ceive the first CSME im­ple­men­ta­tion re­port for 2015 by H.E. Felix Gre­goire, Am­bas­sador to CARICOM.

The Am­bas­sador’s over­ar­ch­ing mes­sage was that with only one ex­cep­tion, Do­minica has re­moved all unau­tho­rized re­stric­tions on the free move­ment of goods, ser­vices, cap­i­tal, the rights of estab­lish­ment and specif­i­cally iden­ti­fied cat­e­gories of CARICOM na­tion­als. The pending is­sue re­lates to the re­stric­tion on non-OECS CARICOM na­tion­als to ac­quire land above a cer­tain size with­out an Alien Land­hold­ing Li­cense. How­ever, CARICOM has made a pro­posal for a res­o­lu­tion of the is­sue, with which Do­minica has to com­ply, Am­bas­sador Gre­goire re­ported.

Do­minica has as­signed the role of Com­pe­tent Author­ity to han­dle the is­suance of Skilled Na­tional Cer­tifi­cates to the Labour Di­vi­sion in con­junc­tion with the Im­mi­gra­tion Depart­ment. To date, 360 Do­mini­cans have ap­plied for and been granted CARICOM Skilled Na­tional Cer­tifi­cates which en­ables them to move with­out re­stric­tion within the CSME in search of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. As it re­lates to the Free Move­ment of Ser­vices, the Min­istry of Trade, to­gether with the CSME Unit in Bar­ba­dos, has started a best prac­tices model for the is­suance of such cer­tifi­cates with a pro­posal that the Free Move­ment Com­mit­tee or the Do­minica Coali­tion of Ser­vices (DCSI) be con­firmed as the com­pe­tent author­ity. At present the DCSI per­forms this role.

With con­sumer pro­tec­tion a pri­or­ity area for the Gov­ern­ment of Do­minica, Am­bas­sador Gre­goire re­ported that the new and re­vised (2015) CARICOM Bill has al­ready been re­viewed by the Min­istry of Jus­tice and the Min­istry of Legal Af­fairs. It is in the process of fur­ther re­view by the Min­istry of Trade in an ef­fort to set­tle on the penalty pro­vi­sions and fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion with the pri­vate sec­tor to en­sure the Bill is tai­lored to Do­minica’s do­mes­tic con­text be­fore it is sub­mit­ted to Cabi­net. The Bill will pro­vide for the pro­mo­tion and pro­tec­tion of con­sumer in­ter­ests and the estab­lish­ment of a con­sumer Af­fairs Com­mis­sion.

Am­bas­sador Gre­goire re­ported that Do­minica is mak­ing strides to­wards full har­mon­i­sa­tion and stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of ad­min­is­tra­tive prac­tices and pro­ce­dures “which gives prac­ti­cal ex­pres­sion to free move­ment”. Cur­rent re­views will cul­mi­nate with sys­tems mod­ern­iza­tion us­ing ICT en­abled plat­forms sim­i­larly mod­eled with those in use across CARICOM. An as­sess­ment of the ex­ist­ing legal and in­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments in Do­minica is also be­ing un­der­taken in or­der to build re­gional ca­pac­ity for qual­ity as­sur­ance, stan­dards set­ting and mu­tual recog­ni­tion of li­censes and cer­tifi­cates for per­sons in the tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ar­eas.

Am­bas­sador Gre­goire cited th­ese de­vel­op­ments as crit­i­cal to the in­clu­sion of CARICOM Na­tion­als within the process of de­ci­sion-mak­ing, im­ple­men­ta­tion and op­er­a­tion of the Sin­gle Mar­ket. “Peo­ple must say if the sys­tems are work­ing, or are ef­fi­cient enough for the CSME to be worth the ef­fort. Peo­ple must un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing and what’s in it for them, which brings us to CTCP Com­po­nent 300 and the ra­tio­nale be­hind the re­cent work­site meet­ings for process own­ers, and train­ing of me­dia and spokes­peo­ple,” he said.

As di­rect ben­e­fi­cia­ries, the jour­nal­ists had the op­por­tu­nity to con­tex­tu­al­ize the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the re­cent se­ries of ca­pac­ity build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties which were im­ple­mented in Do­minica from De­cem­ber 2014 to Fe­bru­ary 2015 within a na­tional thrust to connect Do­mini­can peo­ple and busi­nesses with the CSME. They were charged to note the de­vel­op­ments, and an­a­lyse and fol­low up on their progress, so that the CSME Re­port Card in­for­ma­tion chan­nel achieves its ob­jec­tive of timely and in­sight­ful public in­for­ma­tion.

Do­minica’s Am­bas­sador to CARICOM

H E Felix Gre­goire.

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