By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana’s National Assembly on Thursday (February 27) unanimously passed amendments, piloted by Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodriques – Birkett to the 1996 Caribbean Community Free Entry of Skilled Nationals’ Act.
Among the amendments are to allow for the spouse of a person who holds a Skills National Certificate, which was issued and verified by the Minister, the right to engage in gainful employment or other occupation.
The Act was also amended to allow for a person which such a certificate to enter and remain in Guyana for six months and if so desires to have the right to engage in gainful employment or other occupation for the duration of that permission.
For extended periods the person will have to have his/her certificate verified by the Minister which will also allow for his/her spouse to gain employment. Prior to these amendments the spouse of a beneficiary could not work unless he/she secured a work permit.
According Rodriques – Birkett, in the last few years there have been 35 persons seeking to gain employment from the region in Guyana, to which the absence of these provisions posed a deterrent.
She reminded of complains of bad treatment in this regard but noted that there have been some improvements in certain places. She said the Shanique Myrie case reminds of the sacred duty to protect the travelling public from victimization.
“Insularity exists but we must not seize to ensure that the integration movement benefits all people,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.
In lending the main opposition – A Partnership for National Unity’s support for the amendments, Africo Selman told the House that the Party’s support was premised on the understanding that free movement of families is vital to a free market.
She said the ACT had created a disconnection by omitting to allow for spouses to accompany their partners and work. She referred to the amendments as “forward reaching” adding that it makes society stronger by ensuring families stay together.
She said even as the amendments are welcomed the Administration must ensure that they create the conditions to attract skilled nationals to come and remain in Guyana.
The Alliance For Change (AFC) also noted its support for the amendments and said it could give a turn around to the current situation of ‘brain drain’ which Guyana continues to battle with.
AFC’s Cathrine Hughes said she was excited since the amendments also promote the Caribbean Community and encourage persons with skills to stay.