ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Friday July 29, 2011 – Antigua and Barbuda says it’s not legally ready to implement the full free movement of people within the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) which takes effect next Monday, but insists it remains committed to the arrangement.
While Antigua and Barbuda has ratified the Revised Treaty of Basseterre establishing the Economic Union and the enabling legislation to effect the treaty into domestic law has had its first reading in the House of Representatives, the law has not yet been passed.
“Antigua and Barbuda is fully committed to all the initiatives under the OECS Economic Union. In the case of Free Movement, while we will facilitate to the fullest extent easier hassle free movement of OECS nationals, the legislation has yet to catch up with our OECS ambitions. This will be corrected in the coming parliamentary sessions,” Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer said yesterday.
A statement from the government said that Antigua and Barbuda had illustrated its full commitment to free movement of people within the OECS Economic Union through its bid to incorporate the regime into the new immigration bill, which also had its first reading in the country’s Parliament.
The Immigration Department is working with a legal consultant who will incorporate OECS Free Movement of People regime within the current piece of legislation.
To fully incorporate the regime, OECS Member States are required to exempt OECS nationals from the work permit regime and amend national legislation to allow OECS nationals to be granted indefinite stay status.