Our Readers' Opinions
July 31, 2014
OECS states unable to pay dues to regional institutions

Fri Jul 31, 2014

Editor, Both the new Chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Gaston Browne, who is also the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and Chair of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Roosevelt Skerritt, who is the Prime Minister of Dominica, have spoken about the poor economic state of the nine-member grouping, but neither of them gave the extent of the financial state of the nine countries.{{more}}

Well, I must state that I gather from reliable sources that some member states are so financially strapped that they are unable to pay their contributions to regional and sub-regional institutions, including the University of the West Indies (UWI), and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) on a timely basis. The situation was so grim a few months ago that Chief Justice Janice Pereira sought assistance from the British Virgin Islands to advance some funds to pay salaries of judges on time to prevent an embarrassment.

The BVI is not a member of the OECS grouping, but is included in the ECSC and as a matter of fact, the BVI has the best facilities for its High Court including a high level reporting system. The Commercial Court, which services the entire OECS states is located in Road Town Tortola and its facilities are on par with any international courts. The BVI government is fully behind the Commercial Court in many respects, including financial contributions, mainly because the territory is the leading Financial Services Commission/Institution in the hemisphere – more than 800,000 companies are incorporated in Tortola.

The administrators of the UWI in Barbados, and the Council of Legal Education in Jamaica have been complaining about the tardiness of their members both from the OECS and the wider CARICOM states in paying their dues, which puts a lot of pressure on the administration of the learning institutions and I understand that other regional bodies such as the Caribbean Agri Research and Development Institution (CARDI), the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), are also affected.

The OECS Head called for large injection of financial resources and for development partners to appreciate the challenges. He did not name the sources who can assist the member states in their plight.

Oscar Ramjeet