KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, Tuesday July 29, 2014, CMC – The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) must mobilise large sums of money if it is to address the challenges confronting its nine member countries.
“And that is where we call on our development partners to appreciate the challenges with which we are confronted,” chairman of the OECS, Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit, told the opening ceremony of the 59th meeting of the OECS Authority on Saturday.
“The challenge which we have, with the issue of debt, the issues of our banking system, our financial system, strengthening those institutions, we are going to need an injection of serious hard financial resources to address these challenges,” he said.
Skerrit said OECS leaders came to that conclusion during a meeting of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Monetary Council on Friday.
“As time goes by, with the global [financial] crisis not abating, it is placing greater stress on our resources,” he said, adding that none of the OECS countries has the fiscal space in which to manoeuvre.
“What we are doing as governments, whether it is in St Vincent, or St Lucia or Grenada, or Antigua, can almost be described as marginal,” Skerrit said.
“Because of the enormity of the challenge, unavailability of resources; it is amazing that these countries continue to provide almost adequately to our citizens,” said Skerrit, who is also Dominica’s Minister of Finance.
“Our citizens must appreciate those things, because when demands are made on our governments, our governments must also find resources, and I know nobody in the OECS wants to pay any form of taxation; and, therefore, we have to be measured with our request of our citizens.”
“Prime Minister [Ralph Gonsalves] here in St Vincent is building an international airport using extraordinary means and strategies – an international airport during the most difficult financial crisis in our lifetime. And I think these are the sort of things that we need to appreciate as citizens of our countries,” Skerrit said.