By Mellica McPherson-Ganda
OECS Secretary General, Dr. Didacus Jules called on OECS Heads of Government to lend their voices to the BVI in relation to the constantly shifting goal post of the financial services industry by international bodies, and the Territory’s fight to keep ahead.
During the 62nd Meeting of the OECS Authority, which opened in Roseau Dominica on Wednesday 18 November the Secretary General said: “All member states – whether full or associate – must find value in their membership. We need to speak collectively to things, which impact the viability of any member state.”
“We must be the advocate of the just causes of member states in which for example, their financial services are discriminatorily blacklisted when jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands have done everything possible to maintain international compliance,” Dr. Jules added.
Additionally Dr. Jules mentioned the positive changes projected for the Member States, and he stated that these changes are likely to enhance political and economic development. Such changes the OECS Director General suggested, could further promote among other initiatives a closer knit OECS with a voice for the needs of the people including that of non-independent OECS Member States.
The Secretary General further told the heads of Governments that the OECS Commission is challenged to exercise greater responsiveness to the particular challenges of individual member states and extracting lessons applicable to the collective of members in ways that add greater value, create best practice or avoid the duplication of trial and error.
“A good example of this is our engagement with Dominica on addressing the setbacks of Tropical Storm Erika. On the assumption supported by the science of climate change that such devastating events will occur more frequently and unexpectedly, we are proposing to treat Dominica as a precursor of climatic events to come and as the exemplar of what building resilience requires. It is clear that our collective future requires a more integrated approach to land use and coastal zone management, zoning, construction codes, water management and so much more,” he said.
During the opening of the sub-regional meeting Premier, and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith addressed the gathering. Hon. Smith spoke on some of the benefits the Territory has enjoyed as a member of the OECS. He also lauded the cooperation among Member States.
“The British Virgin Islands has gained significant savings over the years from the joint procurement of medicines with OECS member states. This has allowed the Territory to supply essential medicines to the public at reasonable rates. We were therefore able to take steps to ensure that these cost benefits would continue to grow in the face of increasing costs across the health sector,” Hon. Smith said.
In his first appearance as Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis at an OECS Authority meeting, Hon. Timothy Harris pledged his country’s continued firm support for regional integration and encouraged his fellow small island developing states to work towards a common voice which will help to ensure that the rest of the world lends an ear to the needs of the Caribbean.
The 62nd meeting of the OECS Authority was also informed of the need to further push for legislations that govern the conduct of mergers and acquisitions through the region. This is in light of recent developments within the telecommunications sector.
Host Prime Minister and former Chairman of the OECS Authority Hon. Rosevelt Skerrit thanked the people of the region for the outpouring of support for Dominca which is recovering from the challenges left by Tropical Storm Erika. Prime Minister Skerrit also called for his colleague heads to consider several issues going forward such as regional security.
The 62nd Meeting of the OECS Authority ended on Thursday 19 November 2015.