Leaders of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are moving quickly to establish the organs of the regional grouping under the revised treaty of Basseterre, which the Virgin Islands is yet to sign.
Premier and Minister for Finance, the Honorable, Dr. D. Orlando Smith led a delegation from the Virgin Islands for the historic inaugural sitting of the OECS Assembly last Friday, August 10 in St. John's, Antigua.
Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. D. Orlando Smith speaks with current OECS Chairman and St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves prior to the start of the OECS Assembly.
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
The OECS Assembly is one of five organs under the revised treaty of Basseterre, which establishes the OECS Economic Union. The agreement was signed in June 2010; however, the non-independent states of the OECS, Montserrat, a full member under the 1981 treaty and the associate members of the BVI and Anguilla have not signed the revised treaty.
The United Kingdom has granted permission for Montserrat to sign on to the revised agreement.
While in Antigua, BVI Platinum News spoke to Premier Smith about some of the concerns that have prevented the Territory from signing the revised treaty. [See Video Above]
The delegation to Antigua included Minister for Health and Social development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton; Fifth District Representative, Hon. Deloris Christopher; and Second District Representative, Hon. Alvin Christopher, who represented the Opposition Leader, Hon. Ralph T. O'Neal at the ceremony.
Hon. Alvin Christopher declined to be interviewed following the ceremony.
During the first sitting of the Assembly, former Speaker of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, Walford Gumbs was unanimously elected as the Deputy Speaker of the OECS Assembly, while St. Vincent and the Grenadines national, Hon. Rene Baptiste was elected the Assembly's first Speaker.
The session featured addresses by Antigua Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer; current OECS Chairman and St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves; and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mark Brantley spoke on behalf of the sub-region's Opposition Leaders.
The Assembly will take a bi-partisan approach and as such, members from both the Opposition and Government of each country are invited to sit at the proceedings.
The OECS Assembly will comprise five legislators from each independent member state and three from the legislature of each non-independent country. It will meet at least twice annually and while its principal home is the Antigua Parliament, the Assembly could meet elsewhere if it so desires.
The Assembly does not have legislative powers, but is a deliberative body that supports the work of OECS legislation.