St Kitts PM says economic crisis requires quick move to economic union

BASSETERRE, St Kitts, September 30, 2009 – St Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas says pressing forward with a meaningful economic union can help ameliorate many of the risks faced by Eastern Caribbean countries in the global financial downturn.

Addressing the official launching of national consultations on the proposed Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Economic Union at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank this week, he said the global economic climate dictates a rapid move to the next level of integration.

“The challenges that many of our countries have faced over the past months as a result of the global financial crisis have forced us to put our heads together to arrive at joint solutions to the problems that we face. We have had to develop a stabilization plan that seeks to coordinate and harmonize a wide range of monetary, fiscal, regulatory, sectoral and social policies,” he said.

“Many of these policies were considered to be outside the realms of regional decision-making, but in the context mammoth challenges of global origins, we found it advantageous to cooperate even more broadly and meaningfully for the benefit of the people of the region.”

Dr Douglas said he was convinced that the collaboration and cooperation demonstrated by the OECS policy-makers during this period of global economic malaise must be continued and enhanced in an appropriate institutional setting.

He expressed confidence that the global crisis would pass, but cautioned that the dynamic nature of global economic relations and the impact of globalization are such that new challenges will emerge with even greater frequency in the years ahead.

“Hence, we must quickly put in place the Economic Union to provide the institutional setting that would foster united or coordinated responses to the challenges that will confront us from time to time,” said Dr Douglas, who is also the Chairman of the OECS Authority said.

“Secondly, if the countries of OECS are to achieve levels of growth consistent with continuous improvement in the quality of life of the people of the Eastern Caribbean, we cannot only react to global phenomena; we must also be proactive, and actively search out opportunities in the global economy.”