Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 5th 2013 Contents DECEMBER 2013 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG3
Chief editor-business: ANTHONY WILSON
Editing and design: NATASHA SAIDWAN
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Last week, in this space, some of
the economic reasons behind the
apparently sudden crackdown on
Jamaicans looking for work in T&T
were explored.Since Independence
in 1962, thousands of T&T nationals have left
the country to pursue educational and employ-
ment opportunities around the world. And in
that period, thousands of non-T&T nationals
have left their countries of birth to gain
employment in T&T.
In a post-Independence, regional context,
the reason most Caricom nationals choose to
migrate from their countries of birth to other
countries would be economic.
In the 1960s, hundreds of T&T nationals
left this country to work in the oil refineries
of the Dutch Caribbean and Venezuela. In the
70s, during the period of the oil boom, thou-
sands of construction workers left Grenada
and St Vincent to seek their fortunes in T&T
and to contribute to building the country.
Up to now, most of this country s carpenters,
masons and builders are either from those
islands or are the descendants of the original
migrants. And it is true to state that the oil
boom of the 70s would not have been possible
without the construction workers from Grena-
da and St Vincent.
Classical migration theory states that there
are push and pull factors encouraging the
migration of labour from one country to anoth-
er. The push factors involve issues within the
country that the migrant is coming from and
the pull factors involve issues in the country
to which the migrant is heading.
In regional common markets, such as the
European Union and Caricom, there is a general
tendency for workers, especially young workers,
to leave countries in which there is high unem-
ployment and declining wage levels and migrate
to countries in which there is low unemploy-
ment and increasing wage levels.
So, in the European Union, it would not be
unexpected that young workers would be look-
ing to leave Greece, Portugal and Spain in
order to seek employment opportunities in
Germany, Holland and England.
In simple terms, a high rate of unemploy-
ment and a declining standard of living---which
are mainly as a result of a high rate of inflation
that vastly outstrips the increase in wage lev-
els---explain why Jamaicans would be seeking
to leave their country.
The increased rigour with which immigration
officials in the United States, Canada and the
United Kingdom (UK) view Jamaican nationals
and the relative prosperity of the T&T economy
are the factors that have driven thousands of
citizens of our north Caribbean neighbour to
seek their fortunes in T&T.
It seems clear to me, for example, that T&T
security firms have actively recruited Jamaicans
to work as security guards across the nation,
mainly because the demand for security guards
here far outstrips the local supply...at wage
levels that T&T security firms are prepared
Faced with such a situation, the average
T&T security firm has the option of either
significantly increasing the average wage of
security guards---by 50 per cent from $15 an
hour to $22.50 an hour, for example---or seeking
a supply of security guards from outside of
the country who would be willing to work for
$15 an hour.
The problem is that even at $22.50 an hour
(which works out to be $180 a day or $1,800
a fortnight) the supply of T&T security guards
may still be limited. That s because the Colour-
me-Orange programme launched by the Peo-
ple s Partnership administration in November
2011, allegedly as a crime-suppression measure,
pays its entry-level worker $1,800 a fortnight.
Free migration of workers is one of the more
difficult issues for regional common markets
to deal with because there is always the temp-
tation for workers in the receiving country to
complain that the new migrants are taking
away their jobs or suppressing their wages.
In Britain last week, Prime Minister David
Cameron, in a commentary under his name
in the Financial Times, said he shared the
deep concerns of British people about the fact
that from January 1, 2014, workers from Roma-
nia and Bulgaria will have the same right to
work in the UK as other European Union (EU)
Cameron wrote that his government was
seeking to change the rules to limit the access
of all EU residents to the UK s out-of-work
According to Cameron: "We must put in
place new arrangements that will slow full
access to each other s labour markets until we
can be sure it will not cause vast migrations.
There are various ways we could achieve this.
One would be to require a new country to
reach a certain income or economic output
per head before full free movement was
allowed. Individual member states could be
freed to impose a cap if their inflow from the
EU reached a certain number in a single year."
Caricom s Single Market and Economy
(CSME), of course, has not reached the level
of sophistication of Europe, where the debate
is about limiting welfare payments for migrating
We here in the region are struggling to
implement fully the CSME, which came out
of a decision taken by Caricom heads of gov-
ernment at their meeting in Grenada in 1989.
In a report in January 2012, Caricom sec-
retary general Irwin LaRocque reported on
studies facilitated through the Caricom Trade
and Competitiveness Project (CTCP) that
attempted to measure the level of compliance
of the five core regimes.
The free movement of skilled labour is one
of the five core regimes that is meant to under-
line the CSME. The other core regimes are
the free movement of goods, the free move-
ment of services, the movement of capital and
the right of establishment.
In short, the main purpose of the CSME,
according to the Caricom Secretariat Web site,
is to allow the free movement of goods, serv-
ices, capital and Caricom nationals and to reg-
ulate the treatment of economic enterprises
within the single market.
According to the Caricom secretary general,
by 2012 the CSME was "operating at about
a 64 per cent overall level of compliance."
He indicated that there were "major defi-
ciencies" with respect to the free movement
of services and the regime on the right of
establishment. The free movement of services
was given a compliance grade of 37 per cent,
while the right of establishment received 64
"In addition, there is need for improvement
with the regime for the free movement of
skills regarding the level of efficiency and
effectiveness of administrative transactions
between government authorities and Caricom
As the most stable and economically
advanced country in Caricom, it is clear to
me that T&T has the most to gain from the
full implementation of the CSME.
As part of its review of the issue of the right
to free movement within Caricom, the gov-
ernment should undertake a full and thorough
assessment of the costs and benefits of the
full implementation of CSME, especially in
the context of the increased requirement for
higher capital expenditure and the need to
reduce transfers and subsidies.
Migration also has political implications
because T&T electoral rules allow Common-
wealth citizens to vote in general elections
once they have met three criteria: they must
be at least 18 years of age or older; they must
have resided legally in T&T for a period of at
least one year and they must have resided in
an electoral district/constituency for a least
two months prior to the qualifying date.
A non-Commonwealth citizen, such as the
hundreds of Chinese and Venezuelan nationals
who have gained T&T residency in the last
decade, would need to have resided legally in
the country for at least five years.
Does T&T need an
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