OECS director general says foundations of the OECS represent pillars of resilience

The OECS came into being in 1981 with the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre by the seven founding member countries, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Monterrat, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

In a message to citizens of member states on June 18, OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules said that much of the achievements are taken for granted today, and that, in itself “is the greatest testimony of the lasting impact” that OECS economic integration has brought to the “everyday existence” of the people.

He points to OECS institutions such as the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority as examples of critical institutions of the OECS that impact the people of the OECS member states on a daily basis.

The ability to work together for the common good enables our small countries to survive in a “brutally competitive place with an uncompromising dominance of the large and the powerful”.

In this environment, Director General Jules said, “Some of the foundations laid over the past 34 years now constitute some of the pillars of our resilience in the turbulence of today.” He cited the stability of the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service and the Regional Security Service as some of the pillars of resilience made possible through the formation of the OECS.

The newest initiative, the OECS Economic Union, makes possible the ability of OECS citizens the “unencumbered right to move and live freely within the single space. Jules said, “We enjoy indefinite stay. Border officials accept any official ID other than passports. We have seen the removal of work permit requirements, the removal of means tests, and are now allowed the use of drivers license from any national space to drive in host member states.”

Associated with the freedom of movement of OECS nationals is the protocols that allow for seamless access to education for children, access to social and health services and the ability to transfer all social benefits from one’s original home country to one’s new OECS state of residence.

Looking to the future, the director general pointed to several priorities that include consolidating the growth, development and free movement of goods, services, capital and ideas, the advancement of the single domestic space for travel through the proposed OECS border management and technical agencies integration project, as well as the completion of work on the OECS Growth and Development Strategy, which he said speaks to a “bolder, fresh approach to job creation, entrepreneurship and development”.

 

 

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