Barbados, Antigua bearing brunt of migration – Spencer

(Barbados Nation) Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda have been bearing the brunt of regional migration.

And Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda has called on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to do an impact study on the effect of regional migration on his country.

“Barbados and Antigua and Barbados are basically in the same boat; and when you examine it closely, these two countries have been the ones that have been bearing the burden. “I think it is important for us to begin to look more closely on how this is impacting on member states,” he told the Daily Nation last Friday at the end of a two-day Convocation On The CARICOM Single Market And Economy.

“In as much as we have practised an open-door policy over the years and a lot of these people have made significant contributions to the development of Antigua and Barbuda, the reality is that it is posing a problem for us.

“We are seeking now to ensure that we control the situation as best as we can and to make sure that to the extent that these individuals are allowed to remain in Antigua, that they can be assured that the opportunities that may be available can in fact be at their disposal.”

Spencer stressed: “We don’t want to have a situation where we are unable to meet our obligations to the residents of Antigua and Barbuda because the influx is not controlled and poses a problem for us in the delivery of services.”

He said: “I have asked the CARICOM Secretariat, and the CARICOM Heads have agreed, that an impact study be carried out in Antigua and Barbuda to determine what the real situation is on the ground.” Declaring he was committed to “free movement of Caribbean nationals,” Spencer said:“We have thousands of our CARICOM brothers and sisters, particularly from Jamaica and Guyana, the Dominican Republic and to a lesser extent Dominica, . . . who have been coming to Antigua and Barbuda.”

But, he added: “We have made the case for some degree of derogation with respect to the application of certain treaty matters as it relates to the freedom of movement and other issues . . . especially at this time when the economy  of Antigua and Barbuda is in a state of decline.” The CARICOM leader expressed support for the free movement of skilled labour under the CSME, remarking, “that is what CSME is all about”. However, he said it had to “be done within context”.

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