Region should be compensated for recruitment of skilled persons
-Carrington tells CARICOM Day reception in Canada
Stabroek News
June 19, 2002

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CARICOM Secretary-General Edwin Carrington says that a case exists in light of the major recruitment of skilled personnel, especially by developed countries, for states in the region to be compensated by some sort of grant of capital resources to enable the training of replacements. The Secretary-General outlined this position on Monday while addressing the CARICOM Day reception in Ottawa, Canada, which was attended by Ministers of Government, members of Parliament and the Senate, High Commissioners of the countries of the Caribbean Community, and other CARICOM nationals. "We know that millions of dollars invested by the Caribbean Community in developing skills and providing training to further our development agenda have redounded to the benefit of other countries, Canada included," Carrington observed.

He pointed out that "thousands of our trained and skilled workforce have made Canada their home and contributed their skills and training to their adopted country." He remarked that no one has come up with a feasible method of quantifying the value of this 'export', the region's most precious resource, "neither its cost to the exporting countries nor its worth to the receiving ones." Acknowledging that it may be argued that there are limited opportunities in the Caribbean and incomparable financial returns and working conditions for such skilled personnel in the more developed countries, he pointed out, however, that countries in the region should be recompensed so that they could pursue training replacements.

Carrington declared that this is a matter which is serious enough as it is felt in some quarters in the region that it should be considered by the G-8 countries, (the US, Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada) given the significant number of skilled personnel currently being recruited from the already human-resource-depleted societies. The Secretary-General noted that this is another area in which Canada and CARICOM can cooperate to their mutual benefit. He said that within the G-8 forum, Canada which currently chairs the group, in keeping with its undertaking to the Caribbean Community, can put forward CARICOM's concerns in this regard in the hope that they would be factored into that group's considerations.

Carrington's appeal was the latest in a stepped up fight by CARICOM for some type of compensation from developed countries for the loss of skilled persons. The issue surfaced in two meetings that were held in Georgetown recently: a CARICOM/UK engagement and a CARICOM/US forum.

Carrington also said that CARICOM was looking forward to Canada's help in the hemispheric process of assisting Haiti in its social, economic and political development efforts.

Alluding to the US blocking of funds for Haiti, Carrington said "specifically as regards the G-8, it is our firm hope that Canada will use its great influence to get support for Haiti to gain access to the funds - some already approved - it so desperately needs from the international community."

He said further that to deny Haiti those funds after the government had done its part in meeting the many conditions set by the international community is unjust and indeed inhumane.

However, he made it clear that the call for adherence by Haiti to the principles of good governance is also supported by the Caribbean Community. "But we are also painfully aware," the Secretary-General stated, "that without access to the necessary resources, the government's hands are tied in so far as implementing practical measures to shore up the struggling democracy is concerned."

In this context, he said, CARICOM has appealed to the Friends of Haiti and the wider international community to recognise the need to move without further delay in obtaining the desperately needed resources on behalf of the struggling, impoverished Haitian people.

Carrington expressed support for Canada's suggestion for an expansion of programmes for training in the areas of science, technology, health and education which can help to replace the successful Canada/CARICOM Scholarship Programme which ended in 1998 after eight years. He acknowledged that the programme had contributed significantly to the building of the region's capacity in key economic sectors such as public administration, tourism, agriculture, and industry. It can also partially compensate for the loss being suffered by the region's economies as a result of the many foreign recruitment drives for certain categories of skills, the Secretary-General submitted.

He declared, however, that the Caribbean Community "is not seeking handouts but rather partners in development in areas of common interest."