Dr. Ishmael who was in the Federation to update key officials including Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Denzil Douglas on specific OECS matters, entertained an interview with the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS). She explained that the OECS Regional Parliamentary Assembly will be viewed regionally.
“The work of the Assembly is to debate issues of strategic policy interest to the OECS as a whole before they become law on the level of the Region, and so it’s very much a people’s assembly,”Dr. Ishmael noted. “So much so, that Heads of Government will always determine that this is an Assembly that will move. It will sit in all the locations and it will be broadcast live. So citizens of the OECS have the right to see and hear what is being debated on their behalf.”
The Revised Treaty of Basseterre which was passed June 18, 2010, established the OECS Economic Union. Director General Ishmael explained that the Regional Parliamentary Assembly will be one of the outcomes of the new Treaty considering that it envisages the Parliament among its five governance structures or organs. The additional structures are the Authority, Ministerial Councils, the Economic Affairs Council, and the Commission. She emphasized that the Parliament is pioneering.
“It is pioneering for us, we’ve never done it before but we are working towards the inaugural meeting on June 15, 2012, which is soon,” Dr. Ishmael emphasized. The treaty requires that every Independent Country will nominate five members – two are identified in the treaty as being the Prime Minister or the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition. Non-Independent countries will field three members to that Assembly.”
The OECS Director General revealed that Antigua and Barbuda presented a proposal to become the permanent seat of the Regional Parliamentary Assembly and as such will host the first meeting. She outlined that the body would still be allowed to rotate throughout the region. In terms of being citizens of the Region, Dr. Ishmael made a plea for OECS nationals to have a specific sense of ownership.
“Each one of us has to be an ambassador for that cause, I don’t mean formally appointed ambassadors, I mean all of us, all OECS persons must champion and advocate for our strategic interests,” Dr. Ishmael stressed.