Government of Saint Luca

Go to Homepage


[Contact Us]

Search this Site

Prime Ministers Review OECS Freedom of Movement, Work Permit Restrictions

Governor General
Prime Minister
The Cabinet
The Senate
House of Assembly
St. Lucia Ambassadors
The Constitution
The Staff Orders

National Television Network

Saint Lucia Gazette
Press Releases

Saint Lucia 25th Independence Celebrations

About Saint Lucia
Frequently Asked Questions
Web Links
Government Directory
Browse by Agency
Site Help


-- January 2003 is new target date for OECS Passport

Castries, St. Lucia (GIS), January 9, 2002: -- Discussion of mechanisms towards closer cooperation and unity between St. Lucia and its OECS neighbours and fellow member-states were taken another step forward on Wednesday, January 09, 2002 when three Prime Ministers met here to further fine-tune mechanisms for freedom of movement of citizens of the sub-regional grouping. This development took place on the eve of the first legislative intervention in that respect.

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, Honourable Dr. Kenny D. Anthony hosted his colleagues from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica, Prime Ministers Honourable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Honourable Pierre Charles, respectively, to exchange views and further agree on the issue of freedom of movement in the OECS.

The three Prime Ministers, who were commissioned by OECS Leaders when they met late last year in Dominica, met here one day before the presentation in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines parliament, on January 10, of a bill amending the neighbouring multi-island state’s Immigration Restriction Act.

Following their meeting, Prime Minister Gonsalves said the Prime Ministers hoped that “by the end of February,” they would be able to agree on “certain approaches that would take the process of sub-regional integration further ahead.”

In this regard, he said “the first phase” of the movement would relate particularly to freedom of movement of citizens of the participating states: Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Vincentian Prime Minister did not specify what was discussed at the meeting, but he said it was his hope that the “participating territories” would complete the process of harmonisation of legislation for freedom of movement in a year’s time, “by January 3, 2003.”

He said the thinking of the Prime Ministers involved was that by the time all states agreed, it would mean that they would all have in place certain measures, “including use of drivers licenses and ID cards to enter the participating states – which is already in place in St. Lucia.”

Dr. Gonsalves said the Prime Ministers also set a new “target date” of January 3, 2003 for use of common passports by OECS citizens. He said another aim of the process was the “removal of all restrictions on Aliens Land-holding Licenses to allow citizens of one country to buy land in another.”

Dr. Gonsalves said the Prime Ministers also considered a later phase of the movement towards OECS unity by aiming for removal of restrictions on work permits. He acknowledged that not all the Prime Ministers were interested in this aspect, but said: “I’m for it.”

The Vincentian Prime Minister said, however, that it was “a matter considered sufficiently important” that the leaders had discussed a proposal to have a simultaneous parliamentary debate on the issue in the participating states.

Prime Minister Anthony, meanwhile, said the parliamentary debate is planned for February, which the leaders hope will be “a confidence-building measure,” in light of the many disappointments that have been suffered along the road to regional unity.

Prime Minister Anthony said he was “most surprised” at recent reports locally that St. Lucia was “not ready” to proceed with passage of legislation to facilitate the process. He pointed out that the report commissioned by the Prime Ministers on the issue was only presented on December 7, 2001 – after the recent general election. He also noted that Wednesday’s meeting was the first since the new government took office in St. Lucia after the December 3 elections and the first parliamentary meeting on January 8.

Dr. Anthony said all the participating states were in favour of removing the restrictions on aliens land-holding licenses, “but there are concerns about the language to be used in the legislation,” as some laws governing immigration were “more advanced in some countries than in others.”

The St. Lucia Prime Minister said the process of regional integration within the OECS was more advanced than it was at the level of Caricom. He indicated that while the goal of a Caricom Single Market and Economy was on an economic agenda yet to be attained, the process in the OECS was more advanced due to their having “a common judiciary, a common currency and a common Central Bank.”

Dr Anthony said regional integration between the participating OECS states would be approached in two phases: first would be steps towards Freedom of Movement; then the contentious and more sensitive matter of abolition of work permits.

Asked what was different now than before to give optimism that the much-sought integration of the Caribbean would be possible at this time, Dominica’s Prime Minister Pierre Charles, replied: “We have been talking about it for 25 years. That was a different time when the means and the consciousness were different. Now is a totally different time and we can move the process forward…”

read also

OECS Ministerial Committee Fine Tunes Free Movement Initiative

Expressions of Optimism on the Deepening of OECS Integration


Home ] Up ] Search for 2002 Press Releases ] [Site Help]

© 2001 Government Information Service. All rights reserved.

Read our privacy guidelines.