Barbados has dismissed as “propaganda”, claims that the island could suffer a social fallout as a result of the implementation of the Protocol of Contingent Rights that allows for spouses, young children and dependent parents of skilled Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals to reside here.
Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, said that there was misinformation in the public domain regarding the protocol, one of the measures aimed at guiding the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skill labour and services across the region.
Comissiong, who was briefing reporters on the outcome of last week’s 30th CARICOM Inter-sessional summit held in St. Kitts-Nevis, explained that the protocol only applied to those persons working under the CARICOM Skilled Nationals Programme.
“It is only a CARICOM national who comes to Barbados with a CARICOM Skills Certificate that is accepted in Barbados; that is able to find work in Barbados; that is then given permission by the Barbados government to reside and work indefinitely.
“It is that person, only that person, who is granted the right for their spouse [and] children to join them,” he said, adding that it would be “wrong” to deny individuals these basic and fundamental rights.
On March 1, Parliament approved the Caribbean Community Amendment Bill 2019 giving effect to the protocol, which allows for the spouse, young children and dependent parents of skilled CARICOM nationals, to enter and leave the country without restrictions.
The protocol also allows for the spouse to work here without acquiring a work permit.
Barbados, which has lead responsibility for the CSME under the quasi-CARICOM cabinet, also grants children of skilled CARICOM nationals access to education at both primary and secondary levels. It has also made provision for these families to access primary health care.
Comissiong also sought to assure that there was no need to fear the free movement of skilled nationals, reiterating that host territories stood to benefit from the expertise of these individuals, as well as economically, through their tax contributions and spending power.
He said contrary to popular belief, the number of people entering Barbados under the CARICOM Skilled Nationals Programme was “small”, and that he was awaiting official figures from the Barbados Accreditation Council.
He said Barbados was more likely to take advantage of this programme, since very few of the other islands offered Caribbean Vocational Qualifications at this time, which artisans must have in order to work in Barbados.
Comissiong urged Barbadians to explore opportunities within the neighbouring islands.