Time for tighter OECS unity
November 26, 2013
Time for tighter OECS unity

Tue Nov 17, 2013

by George Alleyne

Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Governor Sir Dwight Venner wants stronger OECS unity, which he says is needed to take on current economic challenges and grow.

“It is time for the establishment of the union of Eastern Caribbean States,”{{more}}

Sir Dwight said to persons gathered for the Eighth Patrick Emmanuel Memorial Lecture Series at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, in Barbados. “A necessary, but not sufficient condition for social and economic transformation of the OECS has always been integration. This had been very evident from the beginning because of the countries’ extremely small size and status in the international community.”

Sir Dwight cited a number of external and internal testing situations the eight-nation grouping faces and currently endures.

Sir Dwight Venner, who has been the ECCB Governor for 24 years, reached back to the early 1960’s when the West Indies Federation was on its death bed, and cited the action of the now successful twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the face of the forthcoming crisis.

“During the last days of the federation, a pamphlet was produced in Trinidad and Tobago, making a case for that country’s emergence as a separate nation state outside of the federation,” Venner said to a grouping of some 70 persons sprinkling the Walcott Warner Theatre.

Unlike what eventually emerged as a single state of Trinidad and Tobago, Venner proposes a union of independent states. “This can be defined as a grouping of separate sovereign states, who pool their sovereignty and resources and coordinate their policies as an instrument of collective decision-making, and collective action to achieve the goals of social economic development.

“This would give them the political, technical and administrative capacity to collectively address the threats to their sovereignty and future prospects,” he suggests.

He believes establishment of an OECS union can be the pathfinder for successful integration of the larger CARICOM.

He noted that the CARICOM arrangement encompasses all 15 member-countries, while the OECS is s sub-sector of the wider arrangement.

“The OECS, however, is a much deeper arrangement,” he said, and added: “The success of the OECS is a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition for the success of CARICOM.”

Offering two reasons for this he said “Firstly, if the OECS in this much closer and deeper arrangement, which include a common currency, cannot succeed then the chances of CARICOM doing so are much less.

“Secondly, a much more closely coordinated and economically advanced OECS, with a substantive increased per capita income moves the stigma away …of poor relations, and provides more economic opportunities for firms and citizens from the MDCs (More Developed Countries).”

In this area, he noted, “Already firms in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago benefit significantly from business in the currency union, and this will enhance their prospects.”

On other reasons for a stronger OECS to the stage of a union, Sir Dwight said that the eight-nation grouping faces and continues to endure a crisis that has been ongoing for some five years.

“This crisis and these challenges give us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restructure our economies and policies and put forward our best efforts and determination to effect our social economic transformation of our countries beyond doubt,” he said .

“In my view this is the moment for the countries of the OECS to consolidate their independence, sovereignty, and nationhood to establish a more perfect union among themselves – a state nation if you will.”