The Bahamas government has reiterated its position that the country will not be part of the free movement of people

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Source- TURKS AND CAICOS SUN: The Bahamas government has reiterated its position that the country will not be part of the free movement of people as the efforts continue to possible amendments to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) that will give a legal basis to the free movement of all Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals by the end of this month.

The RTC governs the 15-member regional integration process and regional leaders at their recently concluded summit in Guyana had received a report of the work being done by the Reconstituted Intergovernmental Task Force (IGTF that had been established to facilitate negotiations for revisions to the RTC.

The IGTF is presently focused on an immediate directive given by the regional leaders to propose amendments to the RTC that will give a legal basis to the free movement of all CARICOM nationals.

In a statement, Nassau said it wanted to “remind the Bahamian public that the Bahamas is not a part of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and therefore the free movement of people does not apply to the Bahamas”.

The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the region and in the past CARICOM leaders have agreed to certain categories of workers, including university graduates, benefiting from the free movement aspect of the regime.

The Free Movement of Skills/Labour entails the right of a CARICOM national to seek work and/or engage in gainful employment in all CARICOM member states with the exception of The Bahamas, Montserrat, and Haiti without the need to obtain a work permit.

“There has been no change in the policy of our treaty arrangements since that time. The comments being circulated attributed to the Prime Minister of Barbados do not apply in any way to the Bahamas,” the Foreign Affairs Minister, Frederick Mitchell said in the statement, without providing details of the statement made by the Barbados government leader.

Antigua and Barbuda has already signalled that it wishes to maintain its use of the current skills regime, which allows it to focus on addressing labour force demand in the local market.

“The policy is pragmatic and realistic to avoid dislocation of the indigenous population, protecting jobs, and avoiding exacerbation of our economic/fiscal challenge,” said Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM, Dr Clarence Henry.

Antigua and Barbuda says it currently implements one of the most liberal immigration policies across the region and is considered a forerunner in the integration movement.

Bermuda, the British Overseas Territory, which is seeking full membership of the regional integration movement, said also it is however not contemplating being part of the region’s attempt to allow for the free movement of nationals across member states from March 31, this year.

“It would be incorrect to conclude that full membership means freedom of movement for citizens of other member states to Bermuda,” said Premier David Burt, who was among regional leaders who gathered in Guyana late last month for their 46th regular summit.

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