by Devonne Cornelius
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The free movement of people in the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has contributed significantly to the development of St. Kitts and Nevis’ economy.
That is the view of Mr. Samuel Berridge, Assistant Secretary in the Regional Integration Diaspora Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister.
“Some people are here and you think that they are Kittitians and Nevisians, but they have been here so long. They are from the protocol member countries [in the OECS], and they are integrated fully into our economy,” Mr. Berridge said adding that “they go to our churches, they are a part of the workforce, and they contribute to economic activity”.
According to an estimate by the United Nations, the population of St. Kitts and Nevis as of April 2021, is 53,486 persons.
“Our population is very small and there is room for growth. There is room for dynamism, and for all of our sectors, so we welcome all of our OECS nationals,” said Mr. Berridge who was at the time a guest on WINN’s popular talk show Voices on Wednesday, April 07, 2021.
This year marks four decades of advancing regional integration in the Eastern Caribbean.
The 40th Anniversary of the OECS gives an opportunity to all citizens of the OECS to acknowledge some of the key achievements made towards one main objective: forging one community, growing together for improved lives, and a better future.
Major milestones were passed in 40 years of regional integration in multiple areas including education, health, social development, free movement of people and goods, trade, environmental sustainability, and cooperation among others.
The OECS is an eleven-member grouping of islands spread across the Eastern Caribbean.
Together, they form a near-continuous archipelago across the eastern reaches of the Caribbean Sea. It comprises the Leeward Islands: Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands; and the Windward Islands: Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.
Protocol Members: The OECS has 7 founding members that enjoy full membership: Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines.
Associate Members: Anguilla, The British Virgin Islands, Martinique, and Guadeloupe are Associate members but are treated as full members for many of the Organisation’s activities.