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Dr. Gonsalves to head up OECS Action force

Dr. Gonsalves to head up OECS Action force

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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has been appointed chairman of a task force to provide oversight and to co-ordinate a regional action plan for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).{{more}}

The action plan came out of conclusions on the Special Meeting of the OECS Authority and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Monetary Council, which outlined critical areas needed to combat the global, financial and economic crisis among OECS member states.

The Task force will include the Chairman of the OECS Authority, the Chairman of the ECCB Monetary Council, the Governor of ECCB and the Director General of the OECS.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday 19 January, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves spoke about the critical areas of Tourism, Construction and Fisheries outlined in the meeting.

While noting the importance of the tourism industry to economic activities, Dr. Gonsalves outlined both short term and Medium to long-term measures agreed on.

Short-term measures include issuing short-term tax relief on the condition that the industry keeps employment levels up. OECS governments will also strengthen their partnership with tourism in marketing and product enhancement.

Medium to long-term measures include the establishment of an Executive Committee of Ministers of Tourism and closer collaboration amoung member states to market the region.

Referring to the employment in the Tourism industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Gonsalves noted that he had had discussions with owners of the Canouan Resort and he has been ensured that Vincentians would keep their jobs there.

“There will be no lay offs of Vincentians at the Canouan Resorts even if difficulties were to arise,” he said. Leaders of Mustique have also promised him no layoffs.

Speaking on another critical area, Dr. Gonsalves noted that the Construction Industry is especially important to St. Vincent and the Grenadines as the economy is moving from a goods based to a service based economy.

He further stated that St.Vincent is dependent on construction, as it is needed for the building of the service industry essentials such as Hotels, Schools, Hospitals and medical centres. He also addressed persons who may not see the importance of the industry “…Persons who are quote, unquote economic conventionalists, they don’t see the significance of the construction sector,” he said.

He further outlined that St. Vincent will benefit from the construction industry since they are not as developed as countries in Europe or America. “ Construction is obviously critical as you haven’t yet reached a high level of sustainable development as those economies with a larger territorial base,” he said.

A meeting concerning the importance of Construction sector to the OECS economy will convene here in March involving officials of the OECS member states Ministries of Finance, of Works and of Housing, the Private construction sector and the Banking sector.

Other aspects of the OECS and ECCB meeting included discussions on areas such as Financial System, Transportation and a Policy Framework.

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