Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 24, 2017 (SKNIS): Tuesday’s (May 23) passage of the Civil Aviation Bill (Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority Agreement Bill) 2017 will allow greater oversight of St. Kitts and Nevis’ civil aviation safety and security framework and bring it in line with other member states of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The Bill was piloted through the National Assembly by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, Honourable Mark Brantley, who explained that St. Kitts and Nevis signed on to the agreement in 2003 with several other countries. However, the agreement had to be debated and passed in the respective Parliament of the signatory countries. By October 2004, five member states had passed the Act thereby establishing the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA).
Minister Brantley was critical of the previous administration for not fulfilling this commitment over the last decade given the many changes and challenges that occurred and continue to take place in civil aviation.
“These are critical matters. We have, as a government and through my Ministry [of] Aviation, the obligation to ensure that we are properly regulated; that we pass the necessary tests when TSA (the United States Transportation Security Administration) and others come here,” he said, referring to regular assessments carried out by international agencies at the R. L. Bradshaw International Airport in St. Kitts and the V. W. Amory International Airport in Nevis.
“If we don’t pass the tests, the planes will not come and if the planes do not come our people can’t travel … and we cannot get the tourists that come through that portal,” Honourable Brantley added.
The minister said the passage of the Bill is testament to the government’s commitment to carry out the “people’s business” in a “serious way.”
According to the official website of the ECCAA, the institution’s purpose is to: regulate civil aviation safety and security; develop harmonized civil aviation regulations, policies and practices by applying International Civil Aviation Organization Standards and Recommended Practices uniformly; establish and maintain a regulatory environment that promotes safety and efficiency in the civil aviation industry; and to create a secure environment for the civil aviation industry. Additionally, it will provide technical and specialized civil aviation services; undertake and coordinate studies for ensuring the sustained development of civil aviation in the region; and collaborate with national, regional and international agencies and organizations to further the development of civil aviation.
The National Assembly also debated amendments to the Advance Passenger Information Bill and the Immigration Bill. Both introduced measures to enhance public safety and were passed without objection.