New information channel promises timely updates to Dominicans on CSME developments
The Ministry of Trade, Energy and Employment has launched the CSME Report Card, a bi-annually hosted press conference that will serve as a direct reporting mechanism from CSME touch-point agencies to Dominicans, in partnership with local media. Coordinated by the CARICOM/CSME Desk within the Ministry of Trade, the CSME Report Card launch was an opening highlight of the Media CSME training workshop, hosted on February 25th. Approximately thirteen journalists and media managers were on hand to receive the first CSME implementation report for 2015 by H.E. Felix Gregoire, Ambassador to CARICOM.
The Ambassador’s overarching message was that with only one exception, Dominica has removed all unauthorized restrictions on the free movement of goods, services, capital, the rights of establishment and specifically identified categories of CARICOM nationals. The pending issue relates to the restriction on non-OECS CARICOM nationals to acquire land above a certain size, without an Alien Landholding License. However, CARICOM has made a proposal for a resolution of the issue, with which Dominica has to comply, Ambassador Gregoire reported.
Dominica has assigned the role of Competent Authority to handle the issuance of Skilled National Certificates to the Labour Division in conjunction with the Immigration Department. To date, 360 Dominicans have applied for and been granted CARICOM Skilled National certificates, which enables them to move without restriction within the CSME in search of employment opportunities. As it relates to the Free movement of Services, the Ministry of Trade together with the CSME Unit in Barbados have started a best practices model for the issuance of such certificates with a proposal that the Free movement Committee or the Dominica Coalition of Services (DCSI) be confirmed as the competent authority. At present the DCSI performs this role.
With consumer protection a priority area for the Government of Dominica, Ambassador Gregoire reported that the new and revised (2015) CARICOM Bill has already been reviewed by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Legal Affairs. It is in the process of further review by the Ministry of Trade in an effort to settle on the penalty provisions and further consultation with the private sector to ensure the Bill is tailored to Dominica’s domestic context before it is submitted to Cabinet. The Bill will provide for the promotion and protection of consumer interests and the establishment of a consumer Affairs Commission.
Ambassador Gregoire reported that Dominica is making strides towards full harmonisation and standardisation of administrative practices and procedures “which gives practical expression to free movement”. Current reviews will culminate with systems modernization using ICT enabled platforms similarly modeled with those in use across CARICOM. An assessment of the existing legal and institutional arrangements in Dominica is also being undertaken in order to build regional capacity for quality assurance, standards setting and mutual recognition of licenses and certificates for persons in the technical and vocational areas.
Ambassador Gregoire cited these developments as critical to the inclusion of CARICOM Nationals within the process of decision-making, implementation and operation of the Single Market. “People must say if the systems are working, or are efficient enough for the CSME to be worth the effort. People must understand what’s happening and what’s in it for them”, which brings us to CTCP Component 300 and the rationale behind the recent worksite meetings for process owners, and training of media and spokespeople” He said.
As direct beneficiaries, the journalists had the opportunity to contextualize the successful implementation of the recent series of capacity building activities which were implemented in Dominica from December 2014 to February 2015 within a national thrust to connect Dominican people and businesses with the CSME. They were charged to note the developments, and analyse and follow up on their progress, so that the CSME Report Card information channel achieves its objective of timely and insightful public information.