Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur is now Chairman of CARICOM, but his dream of a pan-Caribbean union doesn’t seem any closer than when Sir Grantley Adams and the boys were trying to make the Federation a reality back in the 1950’s. (see BFP’s Failure Of The 1958 West Indies Federation – The Original “CARICOM”)
Four CARICOM leaders missed the opening ceremony, and the statements emanating from the meeting aren’t that encouraging either…
“I really question the workings of the single space sometimes, because even as a national myself, I found it more difficult to travel around before the Cricket World Cup than any time before.”
He said the visa machinery definitely needed some fine-tuning.
“But we will have to take our own national interests first and foremost into consideration,” (Prime Minister Skerritt) concluded.
… Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt comments on CARICOM in The Nation News (link here)
For CARICOM to work, the leaders and citizens of each individual country must be willing to put the union’s interests over their own personal and national interests… and that is the unspoken issue that is at the heart of 50 years of pan-Caribbean failure.
Prime Minister Skerritt also mentioned an issue that could be a thorn in the new Chairman’s side – the free movement of people within Caricom. (See Free Movement First at The Nation News)
Barbados Prime Minister Chooses Chinese Workers Over CARICOM Workers
Prime Minister Skerritt wants to finalise the rules for free movement of people within the Caricom union before the member countries implement an economic union. This makes sense to many folks, but ironically for Owen Arthur, the new Chairman of CARICOM, Barbados recently chose to import 100 construction workers from China rather than allowing trades to come from other CARICOM nations.
Barbados Opposition Leader David Thompson rightly targeted Arthur over the Chinese workers prior to the beginning of the conference. Here’s a sample of what he said…
“It is interesting that . . . . when Owen Arthur had the opportunity to help Ralph Gonsalves in St Vincent, or Keith Mitchell in Grenada or even Roosevelt Skerrit in Dominica, [his Government] chose [to allow the importation of Chinese labour] from halfway around the world . . . . to work on the Four Seasons Resort.”
Before that, he said, Government allowed the importation of workers from India for the construction of Kensington Oval for “a roti a day and $10 a week”.
“It is Owen Arthur who had an opportunity, if indeed there was a shortage of skilled labour in Barbados – which I am not persuaded there is – to call up a few of his regional counterparts and say, ‘I have some openings for skilled artisans in Barbados, send me a couple dozen of the best you have’.
“It is Owen Arthur who authorised the recruitment of nurses from Nigeria, over the abundance of trained nurses in St Vincent and Dominica.”
The Opposition Leader added: “If Barbados has a shortage of skilled labour, and I insist . . . . that it does not, then our sister nations in the Eastern Caribbean should be our first points of reference.
“What is the point of all these discussions this week if when we have an opportunity to help a sister island we ignore their plight and go halfway around the world for labour?
“Unemployment in St Vincent is said to be over 20 per cent, so too in Dominica and Grenada. Yet, Barbados is home to hundreds of Asian workers.”
… read the entire article and all David Thompson’s comments at The Nation News Shame Owen.
How Many Of Your Dollars Are You Willing To Send To Haiti?
In today’s Nation News article “Key Talks Slated For Crane“, the paper mentions that the Caricom Regional Development Fund (or whatever it is called today… they keep changing the name!) will be on the agenda for discussion. From reading the article, one would never suspect that the Caricom Development Fund is largely comprised of your Bajan tax dollars that will be transferred to poorer CARICOM nations. (Just think of all the squeeze that those infrastructure and development projects will yield!)
Frankly, the last time we mentioned this we were blown away by the number of Bajan citizens who called us liars when we said that Owen Arthur had agreed to sent your tax dollars to the poorer CARICOM countries. As much as the Barbados media has written about CARICOM, they and our political leaders have never clearly said the words “We are giving YOUR Bajan tax dollars to other countries as part of the mechanism for making CARICOM work.”
Even at this late date and with all the discussion, huge numbers of Barbados citizens are still dumbfounded when they discover that their tax dollars are being given away to other countries.
Laughably, today’s Nation News article (link here) euphemistically refers to your tax dollar contribution to the CARICOM Development Fund as a “regional contribution”.
Check out BFP’s earlier article on this issue: Prime Minister Owen Arthur Declares He Will Send Barbados Citizens’ Tax Money To Less-Developed CARICOM Nations