(BROOKLYN, New York): The 66th meeting of the Organization of Easter Caribbean States (OECS) Authority was recently held in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) under the chairmanship of SVG Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. Heads of government and representatives of government in attendance included:
Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda;
Francine Baron, minister of foreign affairs and CARICOM affairs, Dominica (representing prime minister of Dominica, Dr Roosevelt Skerrit);
Dr Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada;
Dr Timothy Harris, prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis; and
Allen Chastanet, prime minister of Saint Lucia.
Dr Didacus Jules, director general of the OECS, and the following commissioners to the OECS were also in attendance:
Colin Murdoch, Antigua and Barbuda;
Cathisha Williams, Grenada;
Lionel Sydney Osborne, St Kitts and Nevis;
Elma Gene Isaac, Saint Lucia; and
Alan Alexander, St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The OECS member states of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Martinique and Montserrat were not represented on account of prior urgencies. In the main, the meeting focused on:
(a) Joint Strategic Diplomatic Representation
(b) Citizenship by Investment
(c) Climate Resilience
(d) Civil Aviation and Air Services
(e) Increased Higher Education Access
(f) Support and Financing of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court
OECS heads of government deliberated extensively on matters of foreign affairs and joint representation. The Authority continued discussions of strategic representation on the African Continent and took decisions to appoint non-resident ambassadors in the countries of Nigeria; South Africa; Egypt; Algeria; and Ethiopia, at the African Union in Addis Ababa. The meeting also committed to the establishment of a permanent resident mission in Morocco.
Heads of government reaffirmed the decision to reopen joint diplomatic representation in Ottawa, Canada, and considered the shared interests of Barbados in this joint venture. The meeting mandated that the chairman and director general of the OECS Commission consult with the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, on this matter.
The Authority received a report from OECS ambassador-designate to Brussels, Sharlene Shillingford-McKlmon, which inter alia addressed the recent statement by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on citizenship by investment (CBI) and residency by investment (RBI) program. The heads engaged in extensive discussions on the matter, noting the unreasonableness of the OECD position, and resolved to undertake comprehensive reviews of the respective CBI and RBI programs to ensure that areas where they may be limitations are identified and strengthened.
The meeting received a presentation from Capricorn Investment Group on matters of climate-ready investment. Heads of government were briefed on cutting edge investment and opportunities in the areas of transportation and energy, and reviewed market trends in this sector for the near future. The Authority received an update from the director general of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA), Donald McPhail, which indicated outstanding areas of improvement ahead of the scheduled 2019 audit by the International Civil Aviation Authority.
The heads of government received a presentation from Sir Hilary Beckles, vice chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI), on the possible establishment of a fourth physical campus in Antigua and Barbuda. The meeting considered the proposal with an agreement to review the documentation presented by the appointed taskforce currently assessing the feasibility of the venture. Heads of government further discussed the improved academic relationship between The UWI and the community colleges within the OECS member states.
The meeting deliberated on the sustainable financing of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) and considered the possibility of establishing a trust fund for the court, an approach that was adopted for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Heads of government authorised the chairman and director general of the OECS Commission to engage a consultant to further investigate the viability of the new approach.