OECS Convenes 3rd Meeting Of The Leaders Of The Opposition

(OECS) – The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission aims to create a prosperous, inclusive, and equitable future for its citizens through economic integration, sustainable development, and regional cooperation. Recognising the value of perspectives of regional parliaments towards regional integration, the Third Meeting of the OECS Leaders of the Opposition was called on Thursday, March 21, 2024, and held virtually.

In his opening remarks, the Director General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus Jules said to the leaders of the opposition,

“Each of you represents an important and consequential voice in the diverse and vibrant community of nations within the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.”
Leaders of the opposition were updated on the OECS Commission’s work under its five strategic priorities – accelerating regional integration, reinventing the economy, valuing the environment, building resilience, and advancing equity and inclusion. The Commission’s work is implemented within four main divisions – economic affairs and regional integration; operations; human and social; and environmental sustainability. Directors of the Commission presented the projects currently being executed in the 2021-2024 triennium and anticipated plans for the next one set to begin in July 2024.

Dr. Jules said in the meeting,

“In the last triennium we have sought to deepen the process of consultation at all levels and across all sectors because ultimately regional integration cannot succeed if it does not engage, listen to and respond to what matters most to all sectors – from the citizen in the public street to families, to communities, from the business sector to the civic sector.”
He also noted that the convening was not just to update on the progress of regional integration, but also to

“deepen a process of inclusion that is essential if we are to achieve genuine progress on our collective aspirations and in addressing our shared challenges”.
The meeting’s topics of discussion were guided by the presentations for each division. Leaders of the opposition shared their feedback, noting that their inclusion opens room for discussions, sharing opposition stances and that of various demographics, and also for the opposition groups to share their support for OECS initiatives. The participants also took the opportunity to hone in on matters of urgency in the region such as increasing crime rates and access to nutritional food. Dr. Jules supported the request for more frequent meetings of the leaders of the opposition to share information and to address matters of urgency that affect regional integration efforts and not political motives.

The leaders of the opposition expressed their commitment to promoting the Commission’s regional integration work to their stakeholders and acknowledged the importance of the free movement of people, goods, and services for the region’s success. There was a strong focus on the impacts of free movement within the Eastern Caribbean Economic Union and the work accomplished so far. The OECS Commission highlighted the developments across OECS borders in environmental sustainability, education, border management, and crisis management during natural hazards. The leaders of the opposition also stated a clear willingness to support a solution for air and sea connectivity among the OECS member states, an agenda that the Commission has been diligently researching with other regional organisations.

In conclusion, leaders of the opposition committed to a follow-up meeting with the OECS Commission and additional modes of keeping updated so that they can continue to discuss regional integration efforts and the benefits to their countries, stakeholders, and communities.

Each of the following OECS member states were represented by their parliamentary opposition leaders at Thursday’s meeting:

Hon. Jamale Pringle – Antigua & Barbuda
Hon. Jesma Paul Victor – Commonwealth of Dominica
Hon. Emmaline Pierre representing Dr. The Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell – Grenada
Hon. Mark Brantley – St. Kitts & Nevis
Hon. Dr. Goodwin Friday – St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Hon. Cora Richardson-Hodge – Anguilla
Hon. Ronnie W. Skelton – British Virgin Islands