by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The heads of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are meeting in Montserrat at the 72nd Meeting of the OECS Authority to tackle critical issues pertinent to the region.
The meeting, set to close on October 20 after robust discussions on the region’s future, includes decisions on economic sustainability, food security, Regional Integration, strengthening ties with Africa and more efforts in bolstering the impact of the OECS and the wider Caribbean on the global stage.
Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew highlighted the Citizen by Investment (CBI) Programs of the region that were under fire by the United States of America and the European Union earlier this year after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The prime minister says the programs should not be undervalued.
“An important part of the discussion should also include a strategy for enhancing the viability and sustainability of our Citizenship by Investment Programmes. Many of our countries are dependent on the revenues generated by this programme, but we must not be short-sighted or sell our countries short.
We must be cognizant of the risks associated with devaluing our programme and develop a united approach which will ensure the viability and continued success of the programme for all our Member States who are involved and all of our citizens who benefit and will continue to benefit.”
The new administration in the Federation intends to continue investment in the CBI program. Still, the prime minister has shared plans to divert from the economic and financial dependence the country has had on the program over the past decade.
Prime Minister Drew went further to state that the OECS should work towards strengthening regional institutions saying that individual failure to implement decisions by the OECS undermines the authority.
“My final statement relates to the need for us to take action to strengthen our regional institutions. These include, but are not limited to, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, whose headquarters is in my dear country, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, and the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority. Our actions at the individual member level must implement decisions taken by respective councils and the authority. Failure to implement decisions serves to undermine the strong foundation of OECS.”
Dr Drew added, “We should also commit to providing the resources necessary for implementing these decisions. I wish, therefore, in this spirit, to reaffirm the commitment of my dear Federation- St. Kitts and Nevis- to strengthen our OECS Economic Union. Rest assured that I will do all in my power, along with my Cabinet colleagues, to oversee the implementation of the decisions emanating from this meeting of the Authority.”
In his first speech, the Premier of Montserrat and new OECS Chair, Easton Taylor-Farrell, said the region needs to move beyond remedial responses to economic crises by investing in initiatives, policies and practices to promote economic sustainability.
“As the OECS authority, we must give strong support to the efforts again of Hon Gaston Browne in building consensus on key actions to improve SIDS and SIDS’ access to development financing. Beyond addressing the external issues affecting our region, we are charged with enabling the growth and viability of businesses within our local economies. Significant financial resources have been expended to buffer the impact of the pandemic on small and medium enterprises. However, we must move beyond remedial responses to putting resources into innovation and entrepreneurship and creating economies of scale from the products of our creative sectors to grow our manufacturing prospects.”
The Chair ended his remarks by saying it is the responsibility of the heads of the OECS countries to act jointly, purposefully and in support of the policies of the authority.