03 February 2011

Eastern Caribbean integration bolstered by Role of institutions

Antigua and Barbuda Parliament to be home of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean General Assembly

by: "Erasmus Williams" sknpmpresssec@hotmail.com

(CUOPM) – Current Chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas is crediting several institutions with the successes of the regional integration movement and keeping it alive.

In a statement to mark the coming into force of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre Establishing the OECS Economic Union, Prime Minister Douglas singled out the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority and the OECS Secretariat.

He noted that for the last forty years, long before the formal establishment of the Organisation, the people of the OECS have benefitted from the operation of a single, fully functional regional judiciary, the OECS Supreme Court.

“This institution finds no parallel in the world, except perhaps with the European Court of Justice. Quite apart from its excellent record within the region, it has had a long and proud record of contributing to the development of international jurisprudence, with some of its best legal minds being pressed into service toward the resolution of problems in various parts of the world,” said Dr. Douglas.

He boasted that since 1965, long before it was ever contemplated by the region’s friends in Europe, OECS Member States have enjoyed a single currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, which stands today as one of the most stable currencies in the world, having maintained a fixed rate of exchange to the US Dollar since 1976, thirty-five years ago! This currency, the associated institutional arrangements, and the entire banking system within the OECS is managed and regulated by a single authority, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.

This institution which had its origins in the 1965 establishment of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Authority is today a Central Bank of the highest international repute!

Another institution of long standing is the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, which boasts a successful record in the management and regulation of the airspace and civil aviation within the OECS.

The region’s success at integration is also evident in the establishment and successful operation of other institutions of more recent vintage but of equally high international standing, such as Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange, established upon a platform that is one of the most technologically advanced; or the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority, the single Authority for oversight of a fully liberalized Telecommunications Sector; or the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service which has realized tremendous benefits for the regional Health Sector through the joint procurement of pharmaceuticals. Indeed, the OECS approach to the procurement of pharmaceuticals has attracted much interest in various parts of the developing world.

“At the centre of it all is the OECS Secretariat, the principal Organ responsible for the general administration of our Organisation, and in particular, implementation of activities leading to the formation of and now the operationalisation of the OECS Economic Union. The Secretariat is responsible for promoting such pursuits as joint diplomatic representation in major international capitals and institutions; policy harmonization and coordination in various spheres of human endeavour including critical areas such as energy, tourism, air transportation, health, education and judicial reform, as well as trade negotiations,” said Prime Minister Douglas in a radio and television statement to the peoples of the independent OECS states of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

He pointed out that in recent times, and at the behest of the Authority, the Secretariat has been engaged in a process of representing the region’s strategic interests through the development of relationships internationally, with non-traditional partners in different parts of the world – a move which has brought major dividends by way of the mobilization of unprecedented levels of developmental resources.

“These institutions and policy approaches to which I refer, have not only contributed significantly to the vastly improved quality of life which our people now enjoy, but they have also served as models for other countries and groups of countries in circumstances similar to ours. Indeed the OECS Model of Development has been hailed by leading international institutions such as the World Bank as a model worthy of emulation by Small Island Developing States,” said the Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, OECS Chairman and Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Antigua and Barbuda to be home of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean General Assembly

Heads of Government of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States meeting on Calivigny Island in
Grenada for a Special Retreat of the OECS Authority have agreed that the parliament of Antigua and Barbuda will be the home of the OECS General Assembly.

Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer speaking from Grenada on Monday evening said that based on a proposal presented by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda which outlined the amenities and features of the Antigua and Barbuda parliament, Heads agreed that it would be ideal for the General Assembly which will consist of Members of Parliament and Legislatures from member states of the OECS.

The OECS General Assembly is one of the new organs established under the Revised Treaty of Basseterre establishing the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Economic Union.

The OECS General Assembly will be the body responsible for considering and reporting to the OECS Authority on any proposal to enact Acts referred to it by the Heads or Council of Ministers. The General Assembly will consist of five members of parliament from Independent States with at least one member coming from the opposition benches. The members must consist of the Prime Minister and Leader of the

The Legislature from the other member states of the OECS will elect three members with two members coming from the elected government while the opposition will elected one member. Members of the Assembly are eligible to serve for two years from the date of election.

This is an important achievement for Antigua and Barbuda. We have been leading the way in matters relating to OECS integration and to have the OECS General Assembly in Antigua and Barbuda is a symbol of our commitment to the cause of bringing the region closer together. The Government is looking forward to the convening of the General Assembly very shortly,² said Prime Minister Spencer.

The Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda is believed to be one of the most modern and state-of-the- art architectures in the region. Among some of its notable features and amenities are its multimedia and technology features, conference and workshop facilities, Observation Deck and dome shaped Debating Chamber. The Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda, which is approximately 47, 000 square feet was built in 2006 by the Hadeed Group of Companies.

OECS Heads met in retreat in Grenada to discuss among other things the operationalisation of the OECS Economic Union, OECS Secretariat manpower, OECS Regional Security matters and review resources deployed in representational activities at national and regional levels.

1 comment:

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