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Changes in OECS not widely discussed in St. Vincent – Opposition Leader

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace on Monday restated his New Democratic Party’s support for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean State (OECS) but said that while major changes where taking place within the sub-regional bloc they were not being widely discussed locally.

The first meeting of an assembly of government and opposition parliamentarians from the 8-member grouping is slated for Antigua in June, subject to the timely conclusion of other arrangements.

Representatives of OECS opposition parliamentary caucuses met in Castries on Friday with St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony to discuss the amendments to the OECS Treaty and the establishment of the OECS Assembly.

“The meeting, I thought, was a very useful one. It allowed opposition leaders in the region to give their views on some of the changes that have been made to the OECS Treaty,” Eustace said on Monday.

Eustace anticipated discussions of OECS issues will intensify as the Assembly becomes a reality.

“One of the problems we have with the integration movement is that very often decisions are taken … at the OECS Head of Government [Meetings] but they are not bought into law in the countries themselves in a timely manner,” he said.

The former prime minister said the OECS Assembly would consider draft legislation “with a view to have laws implemented at the regional level, which are applicable to other countries”. It will also examine other issues pertaining to training and finance that affect the OECS

Eustace, however, said that some OECS parliamentarians believe that there could be some constitutional difficulties to this approach.

“Some are of the view that … our OECS parliament cannot override the domestic parliaments. And this is an issue that is under much discussion at the present time… But the whole idea is to have the decisions implemented in a more speedy and effective manner,” Eustace said.

The parliament-like assembly will comprise five members of each of the independent OECS nations and three from each of the non-independent countries.

The delegations will include both government and opposition members and will reflect the government-opposition ratio in the respective national assemblies, Eustace said.

Eustace is a member of a panel mandated to appoint a speaker and deputy speaker, while the OECS Secretariat will appoint the clerk of the assembly.

The meeting last week also discussed the OECS economy, and the financial position of OECS nations, Eustace said.

Dr. Godwin Friday, Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines, also attended the meeting.

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