(PRESS RELEASE) – The Sixty-Eighth Meeting of the OECS Authority was held at the Headquarters of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis on February 14th 2020, under the Chairmanship of the Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
Heads of Governments and Representatives of Governments in attendance included:
Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda;
Dr. the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica;
Honourable Gregory Bowen, Minister for Infrastructure Development, Public Utilities, Energy, Transport and Implementation, Grenada (representing the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell);
Honourable Joseph Easton Farrell, Premier of Montserrat;
Honourable Vance Amory, Minister of Labour, St. Kitts and Nevis (representing Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris);
Honourable Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia;
Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines;
Honourable Vincent Wheatley, Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration (representing Premier of the British Virgin Islands, Honourable Andrew Fahie);
Honourable Victor F. Banks, Premier of Anguilla;
His Excellency Alfred Marie-Jeanne, President of the Territorial Authority of Martinique; and
Dr. Ruddy Blonbou, Commissioner to the OECS for Guadeloupe (representing President of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, His Excellency Ary Chalus).
Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS, and the following Commissioners were also in attendance:
Ambassador Colin Murdoch, Commissioner to the OECS for Antigua and Barbuda;
Ambassador Felix Gregoire, Commissioner to the OECS for the Commonwealth of Dominica;
Ambassador Debra Lewis, Commissioner to the OECS for Montserrat;
Ambassador Elma Gene Isaac, Commissioner to the OECS for Saint Lucia;
Ambassador Alan Alexander, Commissioner to the OECS for St. Vincent and the Grenadines;
Ms. Najan Christopher, Commissioner to the OECS for the British Virgin Islands; and
Ms. Maguy Marie-Jeanne, Commissioner to the OECS for Martinique.
Other Members of Delegation in attendance were:
Mr. Timothy Antoine, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB);
Her Ladyship, the Honourable Dame Janice Pereira, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC);
Mr. Donald McPhail, Director General of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA);
Honourable Kenneth Darroux, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commonwealth of Dominica;
Honourable Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, Minister with Responsibility for External Affairs, Saint Lucia;
Ms. Esther Rigobert, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Saint Lucia;
Mr. Aidan Harrigan, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Anguilla;
Ms. Emily Siousarram, Director of Diplomacy, Guadeloupe; and
Mr. Gregory Giraud, Court Administrator, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
In the main, the Meeting focused on, inter alia:
(a) Civil Aviation and Air Services
(b) Joint Strategic Diplomatic Representation
(c) Consolidation of Efforts in Trade, Agriculture and Fisheries
(d) Financial Sustainability of OECS Institutions
(e) OECS Accreditation to Key Funding Bodies
(f) Status of the Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal
(g) Recognition of the RTB in the RTC
Other items proposed on the agenda were deferred for a subsequent meeting. The Authority agreed that this would allow an opportunity for deep discussion by, and with, Heads in relation to these matters of concern for the OECS.
(A) CIVIL AVIATION AND AIR SERVICES
The Authority reviewed recent reports by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the status of Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA). Heads of Governments also received an update on the initiatives that have already been implemented within the ECCAA following the recommendations of the two bodies.
The Meeting recommended a thorough review of the ECCAA with a view to modernise operations given the many challenges facing the aviation industry.
(B) JOINT STRATEGIC DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATION
OECS Heads of Governments continued discussions on the reestablishment of joint diplomatic representation in Ottawa, Canada. Heads further agreed on common OECS positions ahead of the upcoming meeting with the Prime Minister of Canada, the Rt. Honourable Justin Trudeau.
The Meeting also received a report on the Brussels Mission and discussed the appointment of an ambassador.
(C) CONSOLIDATION OF EFFORTS IN TRADE, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES
The Meeting received an update on the consolidation of efforts in the areas of trade, agriculture and fisheries. Heads of Governments granted their support to a joint meeting of ministers in these three economically critical areas.
(D) FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY OF OECS INSTITUTIONS
The Authority deliberated extensively on the sustainable financing of the OECS Commission and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC). The Meeting discussed the financial obligations of Member States and considered various measures to ensure the adequate budgeting and funding of both institutions. Heads of Governments mandated the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the Director General of the OECS Commission to research and make proposals to The Authority on the viability of an automatic payment mechanism with a view to improve the timeliness of subvention payments.
Heads also considered a presentation by the Governor of the ECCB on the feasibility of a trust fund for the Court.
(E) OECS ACCREDITATION TO KEY FUNDING BODIES
Heads of Governments approved a series of new policies that will guide the OECS’ efforts to gain recognition and accreditation to key funding bodies that include the Global Climate Fund (GCF), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and European Union Commission.
(F) STATUS OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
The Authority approved the OECS Commission’s submission to the jurisdiction of the Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal.
(G) RECOGNITION OF THE RTB IN THE RTC
The Meeting furthered discussions on the recognition of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre (RTB) in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) and proposed recommendations to move this matter forward.
NEXT AUTHORITY MEETING
The 69th Meeting of the Authority would be held on June 18th 2020 in the Commonwealth of Dominica.
All Heads and their representatives expressed their deep appreciation of the hospitality extended by the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and looked forward to the speedy implementation of decisions made at the meeting.