KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Minister of Trade Sen. Douglas Slater does not mind “selling out to St. Lucia” — in the interest of regional integration.
Slater, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs, made the point in Parliament last week.
He was responding to questions from the opposition regarding free movement of Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) nationals within the sub-region.
The opposition wanted to now how travel procedures among OECS countries changed for OECS nationals when free movement began on Aug. 1
The opposition also asked what checks and balances are in place to ensure security.
Slater detailed the procedure at the point of entry. OECS nationals, he said, should queue up in the line for OECS and Caribbean Community nationals.
They are to present immigration officials a valid passport, or photo identification that bears the holder’s nationality, along with a completed entry and departure form.
The immigration official, having been satisfied that all security and other reasonable precautions have been taken, shall grant entry for an indefinite period.
This differs from the previous arrangement, when entry was given for a definite period, Slater said.
He said free movement within the OECS is a one of the steps towards regional integration.
His Unity Labour Party administration supports regional integration while some people pay lip service to it, Slater said.
St. Lucian company Consolidated Foods Ltd. recently bought the two Aunt Jobe’s in Kingstown, bringing to three the number of supermarkets it own in St. Vincent.
The company recently leased the building formerly housing Food City.
And last year, a St. Lucian company became the major shareholder in the former state-owned National Commercial Bank.