Friday, June 21, 2019 — The Sixty-Seventh Meeting of the OECS Authority was held at the Royalton Antigua Resort and Spa, Antigua and Barbuda, on June 18th 2019, under the Chairmanship of the Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
The Meeting was preceded by an Opening Ceremony on June 16th 2019 where remarks were made by the Honourable Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, representing outgoing Chairman of the Authority, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves; Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and incoming Chairman of the Authority, the Honourable Gaston Browne; and the Director General of the OECS Commission, His Excellency Dr. Didacus Jules. The Ceremony was chaired by the Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda to the OECS, His Excellency Ambassador Colin Murdoch.
Heads of Government and Representatives of Government in attendance included:
- Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda;
- Dr. the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica;
- Honourable Oliver Joseph, Minister of Trade, Industry, Cooperatives and CARICOM Affairs, Grenada (representing the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell);
- Honourable Claude Hogan, Minister of Agriculture and the Environment (representing the Premier of Montserrat, Honourable Donaldson Romeo);
- Honourable Shawn Richards, Deputy Prime Minister, St. Kitts and Nevis (representing Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris);
- Honourable Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, Minister with Responsibility for External Affairs of Saint Lucia, (representing the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Honourable Allen Chastanet);
- Honourable Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (representing Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves);
- Honourable Andrew Fahie, Premier of the British Virgin Islands;
- His Excellency Alfred Marie-Jeanne, President of the Territorial Authority of Martinique; and
- His Excellency Ary Chalus, President of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe.
Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS, and the following Commissioners were also in attendance:
- Ambassador Colin Murdoch, Commissioner to the OECS for Antigua and Barbuda;
- Ambassador Felix Gregoire, Commissioner to the OECS for the Commonwealth of Dominica;
- Ms. Cathisha Williams, Commissioner to the OECS for Grenada;
- Ambassador Elma Gene Isaac, Commissioner to the OECS for Saint Lucia;
- Ambassador Alan Alexander, Commissioner to the OECS for St. Vincent and the Grenadines;
- Ms. Najan Christopher, Commissioner to the OECS for the British Virgin Islands;
- Ms. Maguy Marie-Jeanne, Commissioner to the OECS for Martinique; and
- Dr. Ruddy Blonbou, Commissioner to the OECS for Guadeloupe.
The OECS Member State of Anguilla was not represented on account of prior urgencies.
Other Members of Delegation in attendance were:
- Honourable Dominic Fedee, Minister of Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, Culture and Creative Industries, Saint Lucia;
- Honourable Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and
- Honourable Marie-Luce Penchard, Vice President with Responsibility for International Cooperation, Regional Council of Guadeloupe.
In the main, the Meeting focused on, inter alia:
(a) Joint Strategic Diplomatic Representation
(b) Citizenship by Investment
(c) Clarification on Legislative Competence of the Organisation
(d) Support and Financing of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court
(e) Annual Work Plan and Budget of the OECS Commission
(A) JOINT STRATEGIC DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATION
The Authority engaged in extensive discussions on matters of foreign affairs and joint representation. Heads of Government and their representatives received an update on the Permanent Resident Mission in the Kingdom of Morocco and mandated that operations include consular services and opportunities for social development and cultural exchanges. The Meeting continued discussions of strategic representation on the African Continent and called for an intensification of efforts towards the establishment of a Permanent Mission in Ethiopia, at the seat of the African Union in Addis Ababa.
Heads received a report on the Brussels Mission and welcomed the recommendation by Martinique and Guadeloupe to deepen diplomatic cooperation between their representatives in Brussels, Belgium and the Embassies of the Eastern Caribbean States.
The Meeting considered a presentation on the Eastern Caribbean Liaison Service (ECLS) and the First Meeting of the OECS Council of Ministers for Labour. Heads of Government and their representatives noted and endorsed the recommendations of the Council of Ministers and recommended increased diversification of the programme with a view to improve youth employment opportunities. Heads further advanced discussions on joint diplomatic representation in Ottawa, Canada.
(B) CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT
OECS Heads of Government and their representatives received a report on the recent collaborative meeting held with the Association of Citizenship by Investment (CBI/CIP) Directors and the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC).
The Authority recommended that the JRCC, the Commission and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) serve as an oversight committee to audit the operations of Member States and make recommendations for improvements in the programmes. Heads also noted the need to intensify efforts towards the standardisation of due diligence arrangements, application protocols and the sharing of information across countries noting the consideration of a hybrid framework to allow flexibility amongst Member States.
The Meeting further recommended the creation of a pool of funding from the Member States with CBI/CIP initiatives that will facilitate the appointment of a focal point, stationed at the Communications Unit of the Commission, to deal with CBI/CIP media-related matters.
(C) CLARIFICATION ON LEGISLAITIVE COMPETENCE OF THE ORGANISATION
The Authority received a report from the General Counsel of the OECS Commission, Dwight Lay, which sought clarification on the legal validity of the legislative competence of the organisation. Heads considered and approved the questions proposed for submission to the court for hearing.
(D) SUPPORT AND FINANCING OF THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT
Heads of Government and their representatives received a presentation from the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), Her Ladyship Honourable Dame Janice M. Pereira, and discussed the sustainable financing of the Court.
(E) WORK PLAN AND BUDGET OF THE OECS COMMISSION
The Authority reviewed and approved the 2019-2020 Annual Work Plan and Budget as presented by the Commission.
The Meeting also received reports from the Council of Ministers on matters of Education, Health, Foreign Affairs, Environmental Sustainability and Tourism.
All Heads and their representatives expressed their deep appreciation of the hospitality extended by the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda for the arrangements made to ensure the comfort and care of the delegates during the high-level meetings held on the occasion of the 38th Anniversary of the OECS Commission.