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Dr. Anthony says OECS talks fruitful

Dr. Anthony says OECS talks fruitful

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Discussions at Thursday’s meeting of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Authority have been described as “very intense and fruitful”.
This is according to OECS Chairman, St. Lucian Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony. At a press conference on Thursday evening, Dr. Anthony informed the media about some of the issues that were discussed.{{more}}
According to him, the financial position of the secretariat was reviewed and Heads of Government agreed to increase the secretariat’s budget by 1.58 per cent next year.
New Chairman of the OECS Authority Dr. Kenny Anthony has disclosed that the body was pleased that the secretariat has recently introduced programme budgeting, and it was agreed that the progress of the new system of budgeting should be monitored throughout the course of the year.
The Authority was pleased with the commitments given by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica to work to eliminate their arrears to the secretariat. Antigua and Barbuda has already arranged to meet part of the arrears.
“The Authority welcomed the assurances of these two governments, and we are optimistic that the whole issue of arrears would be put to rest as mechanisms are now being put into place to put the finances of the secretariat on a more secure footing,” Dr. Anthony said.
Last week’s meeting also focused extensively on the issues of governance and the attempts by the OECS to enter into an economic union. The report of a technical committee on the new treaty arrangements was reviewed and members heard from one of the consultants on the implications of the economic union for the constitutions of the OECS states.
Dr. Anthony said that a considerable amount of time was spent discussing a report on the OECS prison service prepared by Wendy Singh. The detailed report raised several issues of concern to the Authority and the OECS Heads of Government. Because of the importance of this report, it was felt that the issues could not be adequately dealt with during this meeting and a decision was taken that the report would be resubmitted for consideration at the next meeting of the OECS Authority in November.
In the meantime, all governments are to ensure that the report is fully discussed by the officials in the respective countries in preparation for the November meeting. The Authority has also mandated that a consultant review practices in each country to determine what can be described as best practices to deal with the problems in prisons throughout the OECS. The Authority has not made any decisions on any particular issues regarding the prisons, but would revisit the issue in November when it would be in a better position to make decisions as to how the region would handle the issue of the increasing prison population in the sub-region.
The Authority also heard from two companies involved in the production of passports: De la Rue from the United Kingdom, and the Canadian Bank Note Company, which has an office in Grenada. According to Dr. Anthony, the Authority wanted to examine the best way to advance this issue while ensuring the security and integrity of the OECS passport, though no decision was taken on this matter. He noted that there are other technical issues to be resolved including the broader matter of the issuance of a Caricom passport and the relationship that exists between the two.
Dr. Anthony stressed that it is necessary to ascertain exactly what is going to happen with this initiative on the Caricom level. He also noted that the Authority recognizes that if for any reason there are going to be delays in Caricom, the OECS would have to move forward with its decision as soon as possible.
The meeting also received a report from the legal unit of the OECS to review the legislation being enacted by the member states.
The Authority also examined its external economic negotiations and the need to fine-tune its approach to these negotiations and to put into place mechanisms that will allow for a more obvious input by the governments.
The stance of the OECS on the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) was also discussed. Dr. Anthony said the Authority wants to put on the agenda issues of concern to the OECS and how to deal with these as we move closer to the establishment of the CSME. Further discussions on this would take place at the next Heads of Government meeting in July.
The issue of external trade negotiations was also a major focus at the meeting. Other issues discussed include tourism, the implications of the impending tariff-only system and the options for the Windward islands in the face of these challenges.

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