Single market publicity campaign for Guyana
- benefits and challenges to be discussed

Stabroek News
October 21, 1999

Come January 1, 2000, Guyana and its CARICOM partners will be part of a Single Market and Economy (CSME) for which only a small number of key laws and a critical institution - the Caribbean Court of Justice - would need to be put in place.

But to address the problem of rousing the awareness of the community's population to this new economic arrangement which would be affecting their lives in a most fundamental way, a public education programme about the benefits and challenges of the Single Market and Economy is being mounted across the region.

As part of this programme, a seminar was held on Tuesday for media operatives by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat. A wider programme is to be mounted between October 24 and November 6, during which communities across the country, including Linden, West Coast Demerara and New Amsterdam among others will be targeted.

At Tuesday's session, CARICOM officials among whom were Ivor Carryl and Norris Breedy, briefed the media on the progress being made and the arrangements which would need to be put in place during the coming months to allow the peoples of the territories to enjoy the benefits afforded by the new dispensation. One such arrangement is the administrative reform of the public service of the member states dedicated to ensuring member states honour their obligations and responsibilities in relation to the Single Market and Economy.

The arrangements it was noted provided for specific measures to preserve and promote the establishment of micro-enterprises.

The establishment of the Single Market, most of the speakers noted was fairly easy as opposed to the single economy. To establish the single economy requires a number of intermediate steps to be taken including the harmonisation of macro-economic policies and the free convertibility of the currencies, fixed and floating. They noted too that as an association of sovereign states, there were some problems inherent.

One mechanism which has been created to deal with some of the problems is the Caribbean Court of Justice which would have an original jurisdiction in interpreting the CARICOM treaty in disputes between member states and between a member state and the Community.

The Court would also have an appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters. However, it was noted that some member countries would need to amend their constitutions to provide for the Court rather than the UK Privy Council to be their final court of appeal.

Also that a task force had been set up to address the problems of how members states who are not members of the Court could approach it in the event of disputes.

They explained that unlike the European Union there would be no supranational body making laws which all the states must obey. In the case of the Single Market and Economy, laws would not have to be passed by the local legislatures before they could take effect in the individual member states.

Another feature in which the Single Market and Economy would differ from the European Union was the lack of agreement for the use of a single passport. This it was pointed out would need the harmonisation of immigration laws which would allow its nationals to freely settle and work in which ever country they choose. This freedom is presently limited to graduates, journalists, sportsmen and cultural workers. It was explained, however, that save for the graduates, work in defining the criteria which would permit persons in these categories to do so is being finalised. (Patrick Denny)

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples