Dr Clarence Henry, Ambassador for Antigua & Barbuda, is reminding the public that allowing nonnationals to submit applications for jobs is part of the country’s CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) obligation.
Ambassador Henry was responding to Commissioner Hesketh Williams’ comment during Sunday’s Big Issues broadcast on OBSERVER radio that nationals should be given first preference for jobs.
“Persons who wish to employ non-nationals are expected to advertise locally to ensure that there are not any Antiguans who are available and qualified to take up such positions,” Williams said. “If there are no available Antiguans, then they are free to make applications for non-nationals,” he continued.
However, Dr Henry countered that if those steps are followed, that it would go against Antigua and Barbuda’s commitment to the CSME.
“It is very important that there is full understanding of the CSME regime. Currently, all CARICOM states, with the exception of the Bahamas and Montserrat, are committed to participating in the CSME,” said Dr Henry.
Dr Kristina Hinds, Lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill, also speaking on the Big Issues, agreed with Dr Henry, stating that if the rules are not followed, it could result in the twin island state being brought before the Caribbean Court of Justice.
“Article 46 of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas says that there is [nothing] that says that your national has to be given preference over someone with a CARICOM skills certificate”, said Dr Hinds.
In the meantime, Dr Hinds is suggesting that politicians should not be allowed to get away with improper conduct such as giving jobs for votes.
“There are people who do not have a skills certificate, and somehow they are easily gaining work permits and access to jobs through political influence, and that should be questioned, she said. “However, this should be separated from a generalised attitude towards nonnationals,” Dr Hinds concluded.