Above: Antigua PM Baldwin Spencer at the OECS Assembly
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States held its first-ever session on Tuesday in Antigua.
The assembly is made up of appointed members from both the governments and opposition parties of each member state.
It followed a session Monday to determine the rules for procedure for the assembly, which meets in Antigua’s Parliament.
Antigua Prime Minister Dr Baldwin Spencer said the session had “profound implications for regional economic and political integration.”
“I think it is significant that we are all representatives gathered from around the region, elected in our own right by the good people of the OECS in the towns and villages of our various islands,” Spencer said. “We know what it is to represent people at the national level in our own Parliaments, and those Parliaments have in turn selected us to look to the regional interest in a regional Parliament.”
He said the regional body was “one of the most important instruments for our regional development,” particularly in light of challenges like “rampant criminality,” fraying social safety nets and chronic fiscal imbalances in the sub-region.
“It is our responsibility as Members of the OECS Assembly to face these challenges on behalf of the people we represent, and to address them in a way that reverses the unflattering trend that has emerged over the past five years,” he said.
Spencer took time during the meeting to honour former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died earlier this month.