Jamaica Gleaner Editorial | Lovell should opt for free movement

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UPP Party Leader, Harold Lovell

Cynics will probably cast the proposal by Antigua and Barbuda’s main opposition, the United Progressive Party (UPP), to eliminate work permit fees for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Dominican Republic nationals as a tactic to wrangle votes in this month’s general election.

Which it may well be. The proposal, however, suggests that Harold Lovell, the UPP’s leader, has an inclination towards regional integration and a notion of the value that the movement of skilled people across the Caribbean can bring to national economies.

Mr Lovell, though, should go further in advancing the spirit of CARICOM, especially its intention to transform itself into a genuine single market and economy, by committing a UPP government to free movement of labour for community nationals. He should start, at least, with an embrace of the recommendation on the issue two years ago by the Persaud Commission on revitalising the community.

Antiguans will vote on January 18 in an election which Mr Lovell hopes will deny Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) a third consecutive term in office.

Among Mr Lovell’s campaign pledges is to “waive all work permit fees for nationals of CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, who have been working and resident in Antigua and Barbuda on or before January 1 this year”.

That, on the face of it, may appear a strange election promise – not the kind of offering that is normally expected to excite voters. Except, proportionally, Antigua and Barbuda has among the largest number of ‘foreign’ residents in CARICOM.

Guyanese, for instance, started arriving in the 1970s, during race-tinged political tensions in their country. People from the Dominican Republic, especially women, came in the 1980s, drawn, in part, by booming tourism and the prospects of employment in leisure-related jobs.

MOST VISIBLE

But it is Jamaicans, who work in all sectors at all stratas of the economy, who are the most visible and probably the largest segment of Caribbean residents. Their numbers are not immediately available, but anecdotal estimates place the figure at upwards of 10,000. That would roughly be equivalent to having in the region of 300,000 Antiguans living in Jamaica.

These residents, as Commonwealth nationals, have the right to vote once they have lived in the country legally for at least a year. So, Mr Lovell’s promise, cynics might argue, is intended to break the lock the ABLP is perceived to have on that vote.

Mr Lovell, though, has pitched his promise as a high-minded undertaking, citing it in the context of the right enjoyed by citizens of the seven-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to free movement of citizens within the union for residence.

“The OECS Economic Union has been effective in bringing citizens of the OECS together as one people and one community,” Mr Lovell said. “Work permits are not required for OECS nationals to work throughout the OECS, thereby expanding opportunities for job creation and the growth of regional economies.”

The capacity for labour to move in the wider CARICOM group falls significantly short of what exists in the OECS. Officially, CARICOM exempts the following category of community citizens from work permits:

● university graduates;

● artistes;

● musicians;

● sportspersons;

● media workers;

● nurses;

● teachers;

● artisans with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ);

● holders of associate degrees or comparable qualification; and

● household domestics with a CVQ or its equivalent.

However, applicants seeking exempt certificates often complain of the frustrating hoops through which they have to pass to receive permits.

GROWTH IN REGIONAL ECONOMIES

Yet, as Mr Lovell acknowledged to be the case with the OECS, the intermingling of skills and talent helps to expand job creation and growth in regional economies. However, large swathes of workers remain locked out of the automatic right to transport their skills and talents across the community.

According to Mr Lovell, his proposal, which would be law within three months if the UPP wins, would be an “advancement towards the Caribbean Single Market and Economy and regional integration”.

Perhaps!

But if he is serious that the policy proposal is more than a vote-getting ploy, Mr Lovell should instead make an irrevocable pledge that, if he becomes prime minister, he would give greater leadership on the matter, over and above what he has promised.

Antigua and Barbuda should be declared open to all CARICOM nationals – without the need for reciprocity.

If he is concerned about going all the way at once, a UPP government could, as the first phase, do as was recommended to CARICOM by the Avinash Persaud Commission – opening regional economies to community nationals who passed at least three subjects in Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate exams.

The commission explained: “This appears to be a marked lowering of the threshold, but it is a woeful fact that more than two-thirds of our school-leavers do not have this qualification. Maybe this new rule would encourage more high-school students to see obtaining a couple of CSECs as a viable route to opportunity. Equally important, however, is that we propose that those that have this qualification do not need any specially obtained documentation other than electronic verification that they do.”

As the OECS free movement arrangement has shown, the country would not be overrun. Antigua and Barbuda would probably be a catalyst for similar moves for other CARICOM states.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Lovell you are a wise and reasonable man.

    I pray God’s guidance on your leadership and party and may you be successful in the January 2023 polls.

    All the best Sir.

    • The following are results of 2023 election.

      ABLP. win. 17 SEATS.

      UPP. . .. 00 SEAT ( 12 CANDIDATES LOSE DEPOSITS )

      DNA. 00. SEAT ( ALL CANDIDATES LOSE DEPOSITS )

      BARBUDA 00 SEAT

      ASOT MICHAEL. 00 SEAT.

      LANDSLIDE. VICTORY FOR ABL

  2. Trevor said UPPNEARGA which included #HFW at that time said he wanted nothing to do with non nationals.

    • Trevor should just go back to where he comes from. Everybody can come here and tell Antiguans what to do which they would not tolerate Antiguans doing in their country. Trevor should go to St. Vincent and run for parliament

  3. No such #FREE_MOVEMENT, until CARICOM establish a crime fighting agency like Interpol. the FBI or Canadian Mounties with a DATA BASE of ALL CRIMINALS in the CARICOM REGION to include DNA, fingerprints, footprints.

    This would be a #NIGHTMARE PARTY for Antigua, Barbuda & REDONDA.

    Nuff said!

      • …@Tenman aka #Racan, wid de Red Herring!
        Listen up! CARICOM’s is still on Go_Slow!
        A quick example is the recent declared homicide in Antigua regarding the Jamaican. In this day and age, if the CARICOM System is so efficient, running smoothly and effectively, getting info from fingerprints/bio metrics should take less than 48 hours, especially with murders or suspicious deaths. I’m quite sure, this Jamaican young lady had to be fingerprinted, and accordingly should be in a Data Base for easy access, through technology. Not #Snail_Mail.

        The other issue regarding, the movement of the Africans into, through, STOP for good in Antigua. Do the RPFAB or ONDCP or whatever have access or info on all of these Africans too?

        RACAN with the RED HERRING, why did the nation loose Visa Free Travel to Canada? Did Daniel’s Prostituting Ring set the domino or ASOT’ with his alleged crookedness, according to Gaston?

        Do your research, and remember I gave you the Maggah_Dawg Saga…Asot vs Gaston.

        Here’s another one for you, the #Green_🤮_Goblin is about to gobble up Gaston!
        So, don’t fret, soon enough you’ll be kissing and sucking up to Chet.

        CARICOM IS NOT READY FOR TOTAL UNRESTRICTED MOVEMENT AS YET!
        Human Trafficking to pedophillia to serial criminals would have a feast!

        You understand, the #New_Racan with the ABLP rancid red herrings!
        So, in the mean time, it looks like the Gleanor is silently endorsing Harold Lovell. Is this is signal to the Jamaicans running Antigua, to vote UPP?

        Tek Warning!

        Jumbee_Picknee aka Ras Smood
        De ‘ole Dutty Peg Foot Bastard!

        Vere C. Edwards

      • @tenman…We know, that you’re well intended, however when it comes to crimes, our well intended agencies in the Caribbean still need International assistance, training, equipment(once money is spent, the equipments are available) but, again crime fighting once the CARICOM opens up to UNRESTRICTED MOVEMENT, crime will go to the NEXT LEVEL, and CARICOM is not ready. Getting ready, in not ready.
        Now, put the crimes which drive most crimes, and this is WHITE COLLAR CRIMES. Take the CIP program, who does the vetting? You are aware of WARNINGS from Canada and Europe already sent to the Islands other CIP Programs.
        Let’s go to Banking. Our offshore banking right or wrong has to be closely monitored by again International Agencies.
        Do you see where all this leads? It leads to the NEXT LEVEL of transparency, accountability which are woefully lacking in just Antigua, Barbuda & REDONDA alone.
        So, Cornell Hughes, until MANDATORY, INDEPENDENT FORENSIC AUDITING of all GOVERNMENT AGENCIES not only in Antigua, Barbuda and REDONDA, but the CARICOM REGION, what a easy place for criminals to infiltrate.

        #Getting #Ready is not ready! It’s like training on a goat, to go and ride a horse in the Kentucky Derby!

        Put your guard up. I don’t like to punch(thump) opponents in their faces, with their arms dangling, at their sides looking like #Droopy 😞 🥺. At least, take the convo to the NEXT LEVEL because, the criminals who’re and who will be roaming CARICOM open seas freely are already living in the NEXT LEVEL which the Economic Powerhouse is dreaming to get to.

        Ras Smood aka Jumbee Picknee
        De ‘ole Dutty Peg Foot Bastard

        Vere C. Edwards

  4. Them people want to overrun Antigua with Jamaicans. Antigua is a small country of 108 sq miles. You want to send Antigua all your criminals? Antiguans are not going to Jamaica in droves. Jamaica is a “big”country. Create jobs for your people so most of them can stay home. Think of the stress on housing, education and the health care to Antigua. Where are these people going to live? You want Antiguan government to provide them with more housing than they already doing? A lot of non nationals are filling up the housing projects. Antigua already has too many non nationals in the country and a lot of them are filling up the ghettos. They think they have more rights than native born. You want Antigua to be like Jamaica with the Trench Towns and other ghettos where there are shoutouts everyday?
    We in the OECS are loving law abiding citizens. If there is a shortage of skills in Antigua that can’t be filled by OECS nationals, then other nationals can be brought in once they are thoroughly screened.
    I would say look at The Bahamas. Caribbean and other nationals can’t just go into their country. They have to be sponsored. Even if a child is born of non national parents or a non national father, it use to be that the child had to wait until the age of eighteen to get citizenship. I don’t know if this has changed. The poor Haitians have to be hiding from police and taking private vehicles to their housekeeping and custodial jobs. The Bahamians say their country is too small to allow in all kinds of people. When the flights come in from Jamaica, they shut all the arrival doors at the airport.
    Antigua is overrun with non nationals because the corrupt labour government needs them for their votes so they can stay in power and continue to rape the country. The other Caribbean countries put their people first and if their people vote them out of office, so be it.
    Native Antiguans are soon going to have to move away and leave the country to the non nationals.

    • Did u just proof read what u post .. this was a upp promise u dunce .. now stop sucking HLFW dick like Brix love tone

    • Shut ur mouth if you dnt Kno anything do u have any idea how many Antiguans lives in Portmore Jamaica an oichio Rio kmt you ever hear any go missing????
      Nobody is taking Jamaicans here to over power Antiguan upp knows that lots of Jamaican vote labour that’s why they are coming up with these. I dnt in understand you all going around hating non national I am a Antigua have a Jamaican husband married 27 yrs an I have been to Jamaica an I was well welcome you all Antiguans are so fetching ungrateful wen will you stop hating on in nationals.Ww Antiguans have gwaan to other countries to try make a living too so wat wrong if foreigners visit Antigua chupz.

      • @Crap
        Antiguans go to the USA, Canada, UK sometimes legally and sometimes illegally. We go to find jobs and get an education. I would advise Jamaicans to do the same. Antigua is too small to have over 10,000 Jamaicans in Antigua with a population of about 100,000. Most of The nice welcoming Jamaicans don’t come to Antigua. We don’t need anymore non nationals. Go to a big country.

  5. We accept that as the external challenges and pressures become more severe, it is vital that Caribbean Governments take a more aggressive approach to making CARICOM more effective. I agree with Ras Smood that a strong regional institution to fight crime must be part of this strategy. That said, Harold Lovell is a Leader who has the vision, ideas and statesmanship to work with other progressive Caribbean Governments to realize the dream of a more effective CARICOM. But first, we must get rid of this backward and incompetent regime, called the ABLP and Gaston Browne.

  6. No, no, no to free movement. The Gleaner like the Jamaican government wants to rid itself of these hungry bellies. The middle class people in JA wouldn’t even spit at these people, so why should we bring them here? Antigua for Antiguans!

    • You have lots of Antiguans living in Jamaica an nobody says that they wanna come here. The gleaner can talk wat it’s want Antigua isn’t all that.

      • If Antigua isn’t all that great, why don’t you move to Jamaica with your husband? Is Jamaica better? When you go take all the Jamaicans with you and go and set up a farming commune. What’s the reason for having all them people coming in to work for less than four hundred $ per month and keep refilling the ghettos? We know why, labour votes.

  7. Crap sound like you have a problem with antiguan if that’s the case get going and can you give an estimate on how many antiguan living in Jamaica antigua already hard so I don’t see the point of any Antiguans going to live somewhere harder antigua is not all that but as soon as the foreigners get the Antiguan passport they travel to the United Kingdom and the United States of America antigua is a gate for you all.

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