The 59th meeting of the OECS Authority was held in Kingstown on Saturday. (IWN photo)

Two Prime Ministers from the nine-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) say they support a political union within the bloc, which shares a currency union and other elements of integration.

Outgoing chair of the OECS, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne, and his Vincentian colleague, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, expressed their support for even deeper integration as they addressed the opening ceremony of the 59th meeting of the OECS Authority in Kingstown on Saturday.

“I am convinced the OECS Economic Union is absolutely essential to our future economic well being. We are therefore in the middle of fashioning an OECS response to unprecedented economic circumstances,” Browne said.

“These circumstances, if not addressed early and well, can pose an existential threat to our economies,” he further said.

Browne noted that the OECS Economic Union creates a two-tier system of regional governance that allows for certain decisions in key areas to be taken regionally while other decisions remain at the national level.

“There are those who remain suspicious of such an arrangement and who believe that the decisions on matters affecting their lives will be taken by distant bureaucrats without taking in their views into account.

“There are those who believe that the pooling of sovereignty is actually loss of sovereignty and that all of the levers of powers are to be in national hands,” Browne said.

“I stand here today to reject that notion. Instead, I stand here today to celebrate the accomplishments of the OECS to date and to assure you that the establishment of our economic union is perhaps the single most important development in regional integration in the Caribbean throughout the last two decades,” he further said.

Browne reiterated the commitment of his government to the OECS and its Economic Union.

He said the OECS model is able to bring economic benefit to the region and to “unleash the economic potential that has been smothered at present by the small politics and repetitive process of individual sovereignties”.

And, Gonsalves supported Browne’s position.

“I am very happy that he has put on the agenda yet again the issue of the possible union of the OECS, without using that exact formulation, which sometimes scare some people,” he told the ceremony.

“But I would very much like to see us with one central government which is a federal nature,” he further said.

Gonsalves, a lawyer, however said he reasonably suspects that to form a political union, the individual members of the OECS will each have to hold a referendum to alter their constitutions.

“And, as one who has been involved in at least one referenda, even that which is perfectly sensible and right, opposition parties tend to use them to give you a political black eye in the hope that the next election, they can take you out,” Gonsalves said in reference to proposed changes to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines constitution that citizens rejected in 2009.

“But just to say it is an important idea to put back on the agenda,” Gonsalves said.

2 replies on “Leaders support OECS political union”

  1. Peter Binose says:

    Here we go again, Gonsalves looking to be president of a much bigger union of island states.

    Remember this bunch are the ones responsible for leading the islands into bankruptsy, they are the bunch that have spent more than our income, these are the fiscal dunces.

    The whole matter of debt has been created by the ragamufins shown in the photo. Its hard to believe that some of them are leaders of countries dressed in such crap apparel. We know they are all getting fatter by the minute and they find it difficult to find anything in the wardrobe that fits them.

    Kenny Anthony and Ralph Gonsalves look like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. What a disgrace.

    What a photo Gonsalves looks like Ronald McDonald, what a clown.

    Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fattest of them all?

  2. Who are these jokers trying to fool? OECS political federation will never happen because the political elite will never let it happen. Why not? Because all of them prefer to be big fish in small ponds rather than small fish in big ponds. None of them would willingly surrender their small-island power and privilege for the greater good of their people that would come from a unity OECS government.

    The West Indies Federation (1958-1962) should have taught us that the thirst for power easily trumps statesmanship in this part of the world. SVG’s PM is even on record as saying he doesn’t want to be a statesman because a statesman is the term used to describe a dead politician. He can only talk about a new OECS federation because he knows it will never happen. Let him tell us that if the very similar and closely spaced four Windward Islands can’t come together and form a single government, how can the much larger, more scattered and more diverse OECS countries do so?

    Indeed, look at the Caribbean since 1962 and you see nothing but increased efforts at political balkanization: Anguilla separating from St. Kitts and Nevis; Nevis trying to separate from St. Kitts; Barbuda trying to leave Antigua; the Grenadines periodic rumbling about want to secede from St. Vincent; the split-up of the Netherlands Antilles; the on-going desire of Tobagonians to leave Trinidad.

    I predict that as the Grenadines becomes more wealthy and developed due to the growth in tourism, the relentless pauperization of the mainland will prompt its people to seriously try to break their ties with St. Vincent.

    So let’s stop this nonsense about an OECS political union. It ain’t going to happen.

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