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Expressions of Optimism on the Deepening of OECS Integration

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Contact: Janelle Charles

Thursday, January 10, 2002 - Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony says political conditions are optimal to facilitate the further advancement of OECS integration. Dr. Anthony made the comment Wednesday at the end of a meeting here with his colleagues, Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonzales of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Prime Minister Hon. Pierre Charles of Dominica. The St. Lucia meeting was one of several to take place among the three, who have been mandated by OECS Heads to fine tune mechanisms for the free movement of citizens within the sub-region.

Dr. Anthony adds the local private sector supports moves toward an integrated regional economic and financial space and that OECS leaders are committed to the process of deepening regional integration. “ We have spoken a lot about these initiatives, now I think the chemistry is right; there is commitment among the leaders,” Dr. Anthony said.

Dominica’s Prime Minister Hon. Pierre Charles shares the optimism of the Prime Minister Anthony. “I believe that many of us who were chatting in the 70’s we are now in a position to move the process forward. And I am saying that is very positive for that whole movement that we are taking about.”

OECS legislative councils are expected to meet individually by the end of February to debate the bill making provision for the free movement of people. St. Vincent and the Grenadines has already started debate on that bill.

The proposed legislation will allow OECS nationals to enter and remain in participating states without interference. Participating countries are Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and St. Kitts Nevis. The free movement of OECS nationals represents phase one of this integrative process.

The next phase will look at the free movement of labour and will involve looking critically at issues pertaining to work permits. According to the heads this phase is more complex involving issues pertaining to NIS entitlement, access to schools, labour competition and the cost of labour.

A consultative and education and awareness process on the free movement of labour will commence once the legislation on free movement of people is enacted. That process is expected to begin by April.


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