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OECS Economic Union to come into effect January 21

OECS Economic Union to come into effect January 21

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With the coming on stream of the OECS Economic Union in a few days time, Vincentians are expected to benefit in a number of fundamental ways.{{more}}

They are also being encouraged to take advantage of these changes.

Last week, the OECS Secretariat disclosed that the Cabinet of St. Vincent and the Grenadines had already ratified the Treaty to bring into effect the Economic Union, and all that is required now is for Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves to sign the instrument of ratification and deposit it with the OECS Authority.

However, before doing so, the bill making the new treaty part of the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines must be prepared by the office of the Attorney General and passed in Parliament before the January 21 deadline, the indicative date for commencement of the operation of the economic union.

The new economic union will facilitate the free movement of persons in the OECS and is expected to bring direct benefits to Vincentians.

“A person can move from one country to the next with their entire family and all their contingent rights,” said Ambassador Ellsworth John, Director of the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit, adding “They cannot be discriminated against for employment.”

On the issue of goods, John, who is also this country’s ambassador to the OECS, said once goods enter the economic space, the goods will be subject to taxes only at the port of entry and can move from there to other ports without incurring additional charges. He explained that under the economic union, a mechanism for revenue sharing will be essential.

John further explained that there will be a regional assembly established, which can recommend laws that will be binding on the countries, once passed by the OECS Authority.

He stated that the Secretariat will be transformed into a Commission, with one Commissioner appointed from each member state.

“This would change fundamentally the governance structure of the OECS,” said John.

The rules governing the new and existing organs of the OECS will be considered for approval at the next meeting of the OECS Authority, which is scheduled for January 24 and 25, 2011.

In order for the Revised Treaty to enter into force, at least four independent OECS member states must ratify the treaty. Ratification is the process by which a country indicates that it intends to be bound by an international agreement, such as a treaty or convention.

On June 18, 2010, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) member states of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St.Lucia and St.Vincent and the Grenadines signed the Revised Treaty of Basseterre, establishing the OECS Economic Union.

The Revised Treaty will replace the Treaty which established the OECS in 1981 and will, significantly, create the economic union as a single financial and economic space.

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