St Kitts lawmakers debate OECS Economic Union treaty legislation
BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Monday December 5, 2011 - Lawmakers will tomorrow begin debating legislation that would give effect to the Revised Treaty of Basseterre, which establishes the OECS Economic Union.
This comes almost 18 months after the treaty was signed by OECS states and ratified in January this year.
The economic union allows for the free movement of people among the member states, and incorporates other arrangements, including a common market, monetary policy, maritime jurisdiction and maritime boundaries and civil aviation.
“The goal is to increase competitiveness and total output, among the countries involved so as to improve the welfare and quality of life of the people,” stated the Explanatory Notes accompanying the 57-page draft bill that goes before the National Assembly.
“Our service providers can now sell their services throughout the OECS without being burdened with having to acquire a work permit. It should be noted that the Economic Union will give us access to a market of over 500,000 potential customers. Nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis should therefore see these member states as part of our domestic market and benefit from the opportunities that exist there. In the long run this can only help to increase competition among the businesses throughout the OECS thus leading them to provide improved services for all OECS nationals.”
The document pointed out that Eastern Caribbean countries are a prime example of what can be achieved when member states of an organization such as the OECS merge to form a single entity with the express purpose of regional cooperation.
It noted that OECS leaders have come to the realization that the sub-grouping can only become a meaningful player on the international scene by deepening and strengthening the economic integration process.
“The process of functional cooperation through economic integration will help to reduce our vulnerabilities and increase our resilience to external impacts. The Revised Treaty addresses the new circumstances confronting the Member States, especially as they relate to the weaknesses in implementing sub-region wide policies by instituting legislative and executive procedures,” it explained.
Lawmakers are also expected to approve legislation that exempts OECS nationals from requiring a temporary permit to drive in the federation once they are holders of a valid driver’s license issued by a member state.
Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are full members of the OECS, while Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands are associate members.