Deputy Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Shawn Richards is in Antigua attending the 4th Sitting of the OECS Assembly on Monday and the 67th Meeting of the OECS Authority on Tuesday, where representatives from member states will address a number of important issues affecting the islands.
During Monday’s parliamentary session, Heads are expected to address the integration of members of the grouping, the group’s foreign policy, its representation in Europe and parts of Africa and security issues.
There will also be two motions moved entitled: ” Championing Urgent and Ambitious Climate Change Action in the OECS” and “De-risking in the region and the potential loss of correspondent banking relations.”
While Deputy Prime Minister Richards was only scheduled to make a presentation on the climate change resolution during the Assembly, he told Freedom FM he felt the issues being discussed are very important to the advancement of region and he looked forward to engaging his counterparts on these critical matters.
Incoming Chairman of the OECS, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne addressed the gathering on Monday, highlighting the importance of the OECS Assembly and calling for greater and more frequent dialogue among member states as they present a more united approach to the challenges facing the region.
“This OECS Assembly is a very important organ of the OECS, and I’m aware that there are many individuals who take these OECS institutions for granted but I want to reconfirm the commitment of Antigua and Barbuda to the OECS integration movement, and as the chairman of the OECS integration movement Antigua and Barbuda will be encouraging greater participation by all members for us to rethink our strategies within the OECS; for us not to be just mere custodians of our national assets but for us to look at even our economic philosophy, to do things differently, to be more creative, more innovative, more entrepreneurial, more intrapreneurial, because at the end of the day we live in a global space, and as you are aware there are many challenges that we’re faced with- not only the issue of climate change and the frequent and ferocious storms but there are many other issues for us to address. Issues include de-risking and even within our own sub-region the issue of transportation to make sure that we can move people and goods effectively. In order to address these issues we need to have more dialogue; the OECS parliament should convene on a more regular basis. We do understand that members have a plethora of issues to address that are impacting on their time, especially Heads, but there is a need for us to prioritize the work of the OECS to include this institution, the OECS Assembly, to bring both government and opposition together to discuss the various issues and to come with common solutions to resolve the issues facing the various member states.”
PM Browne continued, “So I’m appealing to all of us to redouble our efforts, to give greater priority to the various OECS institutions and not for us to cherry pick those that we like and those that we wish to support but for us to understand that all institutions should be supported in the interest of the Community and even within the Community we need to take the necessary steps in order to increase trade and in vestment within the OECS sub-region- but again, there has to be dialogue. That is why this Assembly is so important and I’m especially impressed that perhaps with the exception of maybe one country, we have full participation of the various member countries, and I just hope we will remain committed and to address the various issues affecting the OECS sub-region.”
Regional Heads will be in plenary sessions during the OECS Authority meeting on Tuesday, and as Chairman, Prime Minister Browne is urging the strengthening of the framework of members’ relationship and for members to champion the collective cause wherever the interests of the OECS are at risk.