OECS leaders to continue meeting in St. Lucia next month

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 22ND 2011 (CUOPM) – Leaders of the nine-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) ended their two day summit here late on Friday night agreeing to meet in St. Lucia next month to further discussion on finalising aspects of their economic union.

According to a CMC report from Kingstown, St. Vincent where the meeting was held, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, Stephenson King, who assumed the chairmanship of the subregional grouping, said that the 53rd meeting of the OECS Authority had been suspended until June 20 when the leaders will gather in Castries to look at the work programme and matters pertaining to finance.

Noting that last week’s intense meeting was the first by the Authority since the Revised Treaty of Basseterre was agreed to in June last year, Prime Minister King said governance and a number of operational matters pertaining to the new structure to guide the union will also be discussed on June 20.

“During the last two days, the heads spent quite a lot of time in caucus during which time they were able to practically look at a number of issues pertaining to the operations of the union. Among them, we were able to deal with matters pertaining to the Overseas Missions where we’ve seen an update and a review of the economic value, significance, and benefits of our joint Missions in the United Kingdom, in Ottawa and in other parts of the hemisphere.

“We were also able to deal with matters pertaining to the OECS economic union governance structures and to see how in this initial period of the operationalisation of this union we can ensure that those governance structures can be effective in the administration and functioning of the union,” King told reporters.

The OECS Chairman said that the sub-regional leaders also discussed matters relating to the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

He said the plenary session on the final day dealt primarily with matters pertaining to the economic union and the leaders received an update on the financing of the OECS work programme.

Prime Minister King said the OECS leaders were also updated on the implementation plan for the free movement of people and goods within the sub-region, a significant aspect of the new economic union-.

King said the issue of maritime boundaries delimitation, raised by host Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was also dealt with as well as measures to deepen the OECS integration process and the sub-region’s relationship with third countries.

The St. Lucia Prime Minister said that the meeting also received a comprehensive report on the British American Insurance Company (BAICO) and the Colonial Life Insurance (CLICO) financial situation from Prime Minister Gonsalves, who is leading the sub-region’s response to the collapse of these two Trinidad-based regional companies.

The collapse has left the sub-region in dire financial problems with policy holders likely to lose millions of dollars in investments.

Prime Minister King also stated that it was agreed tourism and agriculture ministers will meet soon to formulate certain work programmes that would have implications for the sub-region.

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