Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 03, 2017 (SKNIS): Distinguished Heads of Government from across the Eastern Caribbean gathered at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on Friday, March 03, to convene the 64th Meeting of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority in an effort to seek common answers to overcome the challenges of globalization, by discussing a number of pertinent matters relating to Member States including but not limited to healthcare insurance, security, climate change, foreign affairs and aviation.
Dr. Didacus Jules, Director-General – OECS Commission, used the occasion to welcome all who attended, including the two newest members to the OECS Authority, namely, the Honourable Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of St. Lucia and His Excellency Alfred Marie-Jeanne, President of the Executive Council in the Territorial Authority of Martinique.
The director-general described the meeting as historic and encouraged all the leaders to engage in meaningful discussions that would redound to the benefit of all citizens of the Member States.
“This 64th Meeting of the Authority will have to think strategically about our collective positioning in a world in which all grounds are shifting, all alliances are fluid and the old certainties have become the new unpredictable. As protectionism unravels economic interdependencies and the politics of identity moves to centre stage, the only viable option for survival for small vulnerable economies like ours will be to find common cause,” said Dr. Jules, adding that the time is ripe for Member States to press harder on the pedal of regional integration in order to stand stronger and taller in the face of these storms. “In so many simple ways the deeper convergence of effort and resources is the way to go, whether it be in extending procurement of medicines to the pool of procurement of essential supplies and widely needed services, or the use of virtual working groups comprising the best expertise in Member States in areas such as trade, diplomacy, tourism and health, to design common approaches to optimize pool resources and to strategize in our dealing with the wider world.”
He said that the past year posed many challenges for the Commission, but warned however, that an 81 percent accomplishment was recorded on the region’s key performance indicators.
“The past year has been challenging for the Commission as we have navigated financial and other constraints in which impacted our capacity to execute the fullness of the programme that was originally planned, but the difficulties that we had to face are the same ones faced by Member States,” said the director general. “We are deeply conscious of the need to show value for money and to find opportunity in adversity. As a consequence, we have had to find more cost-effective and convergent ways of working and focus on essentials.”
Dr. Jules said that the OECS Commission is “moving rapidly to structure and position itself as a facilitator of deeper and wider collaboration from the top floor of decision making to the ground floor where implementation and delivery happen”. He added that the Commission remains deeply committed to regional integration.
Other Heads of Government present were the Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, the Honourable Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Monserrat, Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Honourable Orlando Smith, Premier of the British Virgin Islands, the Honourable Victor Banks, Premier of Anguilla, and Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and outgoing Chairman of the OECS Authority.