PM Skerrit discusses first sitting of the OECS Assembly

Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit in an exclusive interview with GIS News on Tuesday April 2, 2013 spoke about the relevance of the OECS Parliament Meeting.

The first sitting of its kind took place in Antigua on March 26, 2013.

Prime Minister Skerrit believes that in order for the OECS body to move forward, it is important for all Heads of Government to meet at a regional level.

The Assembly is created under the Economic Union Treaty.

He says, “I would believe it is important for us to meet at the regional level as Parliamentarians to discuss issues which are of grave and great importance to the region.  What is more critical and the hope is that we can set aside our own national domestic partisan politics and leave it on the tarmac in our respective countries to look at the region from a global standpoint. It is important that we work together to create a better way of life for all of our citizens in the OECS.

“I also believe that it is important for us to have the assembly to serve as a peer review of the successes we have had so far but also the challenges that we are experiencing.  In cases where respective national governments have not implemented certain aspects of the treaty, that can be drawn to the attention at the assembly level and some kind of commitment [can then be] given towards a time table or deadline by which they would address those issues.”

The Prime Minister gave details of some of the issues that were tabled.

“We were able to look at the issue of free movement of people within the OECS under the Economic Union Treaty.  A number of very important issues came up of challenges and concerns.  In Dominica’s case, there is legislation which we have to put in place but that withstanding; people have been enjoying the benefits of moving freely and coming in and out of Dominica since August of 2011 with no hindrances, so the meeting discussed that particular point.  There are a number of other important issues which came up, that need to be addressed even outside of the Parliament.”

Given the world’s economic challenges, Prime Minister Skerrit says no one country can face issues alone and so the OECS Parliament is critical in that respect.

He made reference to the Clico/Baico matter.

“The most important thing is for us to maintain a regionalist and integrationist approach towards matters to be discussed at the assembly... We have to look at what we can do together to overcome certain challenges because the present day realities of the world is such that no one country can address the issues by itself.  The matters relating to Clico/Baico are clear; had we decided to work on our own individual regulators, there is no way we would have been able to save and secure the investment of so many of our citizens.  Already we have made tremendous payments and later this year we are making another payment under the Baico/Clico arrangement.  So we’ve had great successes and we look forward to even more profound discussions at the assembly level.”