The landmark event, originally slated for June 15, was postponed at short notice after participating heads of government agreed that preparations across the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) Economic Union would benefit from additional time to ensure that all arrangements were in place “so that the inauguration of this vital organ is accorded the place of distinction which it will command”.
With that objective now achieved, today’s historic event will include the pageantry of the inspection of the Guard of Honour by the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda accompanied by the OECS chairman, as well as the election of the first Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the OECS Assembly.
The inaugural session of the OECS Assembly will also feature addresses by host Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, and chairman of the OECS Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Reuben Meade, premier of Montserrat, will address the ceremony on behalf of the non-independent member states, and an address will be delivered by a representative of the political opposition in the OECS.
The Assembly comprises five members of the parliament of each independent member state and three members from the legislature of each non-independent member state, with representation from both the ruling administration and the political opposition.
Antigua and Barbuda will serve as the headquarters of the OECS Assembly, but the Assembly may hold meetings in other member states.
The Assembly, which will meet at least twice per year, is one of five principal organs established by the Revised Treaty of Basseterre establishing the OECS Economic Union, and is one of the new organs of the OECS.
The OECS Authority can request the OECS Assembly, which is a deliberative body, to consider and report on any area of interest to the organization.
There are eight specific areas for which the Revised Treaty allows the OECS to develop legislation: the common market, monetary policy, trade policy, maritime jurisdiction and boundaries, civil aviation, commercial policy, environmental policy and immigration policy, all of which are considered critical in advancing the progress of OECS integration.