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Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle

8/10/2006

Trinidad and the CARICOM Skills Certificate

Letter of the Day - CSME certificate - the full story
published: Sunday | August 6, 2006

The Editor, Sir:

After seeking to benefit from the much heralded free movement of labour under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), I am most disappointed that the full story has not been told. I did all that was necessary, notwithstanding the bureaucratic encounter at the Ministry of Labour (where only the minister can sign the approval for the CSME skill certificate) to get my skill certificate to travel to work in Trinidad. All this time I was told that this was all that was necessary to be employed in a country signed on to the programme.

To my surprise, after being employed in Trinidad and travelling out of the country on business, I was informed on re-entry that the CSME certificate obtained in Jamaica is only good for six months and does not give the privilege of being employed in the country. The holder is expected in Trinidad to apply for a CSME certificate in Trinidad including, medical, police record etc. before being able to reside and work in the country. This I do think is absurd as the same procedure is required in each home country. Is this to say that if I need to work in five CARICOM countries, I need five skill certificates from each country?

Please, can someone explain to me what really is the usefulness of issuing skill certificates in one's home country when it has no true value in the country that you are seeking employment? This is not free movement of labour, as I could have been debarred from entering Trinidad even if I had a CSME skill certificate from Jamaica.


CSME not working
published: Friday | August 11, 2006

The Editor, Sir:

I must agree with the letter from Mr. Carl Stewart, referencing the CSME.

It is one of the most bureaucratic pieces of legislation that I have ever run across.

I, like Mr. Stewart, moved to Trinidad and Tobago to make a better life for myself and family. This legislation was to aid in the free movement of labour within the Caribbean. I am here to tell you, that is not so.

I submitted an application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs three months ago and to date still have no certificate, even though I have a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Finance.

I have had to obtain police reports from everywhere I have lived, even places that I lived 18 years ago.

Mr. Stewart is absolutely right - the true story is not being told, the CSME does not work. It has been in existence for a few months and is in desperate need of an overhaul.



The above letters caught my attention, as it reminded me of a friend of mine who was facing almost the same treatment in Trinidad.

Then a few days later, someone shared virtually the same story in the Gleaner.

What is going on here? I posted the same question on CaribHRFoum, to see if anyone else had heard any stories about Trinidad not accepting the CSME Skills Certificate. Sure enough, both Jamaicans and Bajans reported that they had encountered difficulty in getting the CARICOM Skills Certificate recognized in Trinidad.

I placed a few emails to CSME offices in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados to try to find out what the story is, and what HR executives across the region need to be aware of.

We shall see if there are any responses.

In the meantime, if you or anyone else you know has encountered difficulty in using the CARICOM Skills Certificate anywhere in the region, please post your story as a comment to this post (it can be done anonymously.)

It might very well help someone who is operating under some false understanding that could be damaging.

Labels:

3 Comments:

  • HR professionals in the region, and employers generally, must act together to pressure governments to implement the free movement of labour in the manner we want .. quick and effortless. We can not leave it up to them.

    By Anonymous Lara Quentrall-Thomas, at 8/17/2006  

  • Lara,

    Agreed. HR professionals cannot let this become another issue which becomes a case of catch-up. If ever there were an issue that required attention --- this is it.

    By Blogger fwade, at 8/17/2006  

  • Good day all:

    As one of the silent observers with high interest regarding the CARICOM SKILL RECOGNITION CERTIFICATE please view a snapshot of the information CURRENTLY AVAILABLE:

    1. ORIGINS
    Article 45 of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas therefore states that:

    "Member States commit themselves to the goal of the free movement of their nationals within the Community".

    Furthermore, in Article II, Respect for Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, of the Charter of Civil Society, the following is included as one of the fundamental humans rights and freedoms :

    "Freedom of movement within the Caribbean Community, subject to such exceptions and qualifications as may be authorised by national law and which are reasonably justifiable in a free and democratic society".

    Notwithstanding the above, the Conference decided to implement free movement of skills in a phased approach, but the ultimate goal is free movement for all.
    2. PURPOSE:
    The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Free Movement of Persons Act, 1997, is a legislation that all CARICOM Member States should have in place by December 2005, the latest. It allows for free movement of skilled labour in six categories and persons can qualify for Skills Certificates, which allow for free movement across the CARICOM region.
    3. WHAT IS THE CARICOM SKILLS RECOGNITION CERTIFICATE
    A Skills Certificate replaces work permits and allows CARICOM nationals the freedom to work in member states under the Free Movement of Labour clause of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
    4. PROCESS TIME
    Four to six (4 - 6) weeks
    5. WHAT WE NEED TO DO
    University graduates only need to show their degrees to be granted a CARICOM Recognition of Skills Qualification, other professionals such as sportsmen, musicians and artistes, are required to present other documents.Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2005
    6. MEMBERS STATES AND MINSTRY RESPONSIBLE FOR ISSUING SKILL CERTIFICATE
    Ministry of Labour <=> Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda and Suriname
    Ministries for Caribbean Community Affairs <=> St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Guyana,
    Ministries of Immigration<=>St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Belize and Barbados
    7. SUCCESSFUL APPLICANTS FOR SKILLS CERTIFICATES GRANTED IN JAMAICA
    Trinidad and Tobago <=>147
    Guyana <=> 84;
    Jamaica <=> 78 (applied)
    Barbados <=> 50;
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines <=> 15;
    Saint Lucia <=> 12;
    Antigua and Barbuda <=> 9;
    Belize <=> 8; and
    The rest <=> lower single digits.
    Although the Ministry did not disclose the categories for the applicants, it says that, ‘they fit into all the categories.’
    Barbados has issued 1000
    Trinidad and Tobago has issued 500
    Jamaica almost 400
    8. NON MEMBER CARICOM CARIBBEAN STATES
    Bahamas - a CARICOM member state which has chosen not to be included in the Single Market and Economy aspect of CARICOM.
    The Cayman Islands - an associate state to CARICOM, not a member state and is therefore by choice excluded from the impending CSME.
    9. NO MORE SKILLS CERTIFICATE - JAMAICA INFORMATION SERVICE
    10.
    Full Implementation of CSME will Remove need for Skills Certificate - Jamaca Information Service
    Come December 31, 2008, when the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is fully implemented, there will be no need for CARICOM nationals to have permits or skills certificates to work in members states, as by then, every category of the workforce would be eligible to move freely.

    NO DOUBLE TAXATION:
    No double taxation for thewe who set up businesses or work in CARICOM member states, says Robert Miller, head of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. He explained that, "under the CSME, you do not pay tax in both your country of origin and the host country. You are subject to the tax law of your country of origin only, not that of the host."

    Under the Intra-Regional Double Taxation Agreement, which was implemented in 1994 and has so far been enacted in 10 CARICOM member states, all self-employed and wage earning CARICOM nationals are protected from paying taxes twice on the same earnings.
    More from MR. Miller: he emphasized that each CARICOM national should know the types of taxes that they are supposed to pay in their home country,Whilst the CARICOM national does not pay tax in the host country, he/she is required to contribute to that country's social security scheme during his tenure of employment there, since he/she is entitled to the same benefits as the nationals of the host country. This is in keeping with the CARICOM Agreement on Social Security, which came into effect on April 1, 1997.

    * Steven Mac Andrew, Specialist, Free Movement of Labour/Skills states that Proof of tax compliance in the country of economic activity should be presented to the relevant authorities in the national's home country.

    On the issue of free movement of labour, Steven Mac Andrew, Specialist, Free Movement of Labour/Skills, disclosed that a database to track the movement of people was developed by the CARICOM Secretariat in 2004 and that this tracking involved not only workers, but also criminals.

    MEANWHILE IN TRINIDAD...

    A non-national entering Trinidad and Tobago is entitled to work without a work permit for one period not exceeding thirty days in any twelve consecutive months. Once that single entry has been utilized, the non-national must obtain a work permit in order to continue to work in Trinidad and Tobago.

    The Work Permit Committee meets once per week to review applications. On favourable consideration, the duration fee of $5,400.00 per annum becomes payable,

    ++++++++++++++++++

    The Work Permit Committee that reviews the application meets once per month. If the application is approved, the Certificate is issued. There is no fee for the application or issue of the Certificate and it takes approximately 6 – 8 weeks for the application to be processed. A person who holds a Caricom Skills Certificate of Recognition from another jurisdiction is entitled to remain in Trinidad and Tobago for six months without restrictions on his freedom of movement. A Trinidad and Tobago national who intends to work in any of the CSME territories may obtain the Certificate from our local Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then obtain the reciprocal enforcement of the Certificate when he arrives in the specific jurisdiction.
    I hope this widens your lens from which we once viewed the Skills Certificate.

    JAnnMarie Jarrett

    Sources:
    http://www.jis.gov.jm/special_sections/caricomnew/applyingForACaricom.html
    http://www.jis.gov.jm/special_sections/caricomnew/jamaicansEncouragedTo.html
    http://www.jis.gov.jm/search/results.asp?stext=SKILLS+CERTIFICATE&sbutton.x=22&sbutton.y=5&stype=simple
    http://www.hrmatt.com/Permits_to_Caribbean_integration_and_beyond.asp

    >
    >

    By Blogger JAnn-Marie, at 8/19/2006  

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