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Remarks by The Right Hon. Sir John G. M. Compton at the Opening Session of the OECS Development Conference January 29, 2007

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JANUARY 29, 2007

I have often been critical of the slow pace of our regional integration process - referring to it as the dance of the “TWIST” which some – but not many of us of the 70’s ilk - will remember, as a great deal of motion but with little forward movement to our credit, we have never left the dance floor or lost sight of our goals.

Events of the last decade in all parts of the world – Europe, the Americas, Asia or Africa now compel us to adopt a new dance sequence, which takes us more speedily to our goal – that of providing a better standard of life and a higher standard of living for our people in an open and globalized environment which our people see as available to then, informing our leaders will take the bold steps to open the door to the future.

Some 40 years ago, when a group of us – then Chief Ministers, huddled together like abandoned chickens in a storm, decided that our inescapable destiny was to work together, if we were to survive in the harsh and unforgiving world, and during the half hour flight from Barbados to St Lucia, we created the WEST INDIES ASSOCIATED STATES (WISA) the predecessor of this organization – the OECS.

Forty years later, as we look back upon our achievements although there is much to be proud of yet, there is so much to do. In the words of Cecil Rhodes, “So much to do and so little done”.

It is left to this generation to build upon what our predecessors have done. The Supreme Court also 40 years old, then there is the Common Currency which has kept many of us from the jaws of the IMF - the Civil Aviation Organization - are but a few of our achievements. But these are not enough to sustain us in this globalized environment. Your agenda shows that you are fully aware of the challenges if we are not only to survive, but to build a foundation upon which our people can progress and prosper and not merely a platform upon which a few can grow rich while the majority are mired down in poverty.

We see this meeting as assisting the reform to provide some of the answers and a defensive mechanism against the gathering storm. The meeting - so well balance between government leaders, Scholars and managers of both the public and private sectors - should clear the undergrowth and point us to the new horizons with all its challenges, but with all its opportunities. The future is not for the timid nor is the battle for the faint hearted. Those who dare will win.

As we meet here in the DAVOS Sans nieve “Davos in the Sunshine” of this friendly and hospitable country, whose hospitality I invite you to share.

The only reward we seek is that your deliberations are fruitful and show us the path to guide us through the unknown.

With these few words I welcome you to St Lucia and wish you a fruitful conference.


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