Friday, June 23, 2017 — Stepping into the role of OECS Chairman in June 2016, Prime Minister Harris quickly identified OECS Regional Integration as a principal priority and worked strategically towards its advancement – focusing on the benefits to citizens of OECS Member States.
Among the areas of focus, under Prime Minister Harris’ chairmanship, were:
- Ongoing membership;
- Data management;
- Regional security;
- International interests; and
- Regional health.
OECS Membership: Fostering cooperation with the French Territories
The accession of Martinique as the 10th Associated Member State of the OECS in 2015 paved the way to deeper ties between the OECS and the French territories of the Caribbean. This link was fortified in April of 2017, when the first OECS staff member from Martinique joined the Commission – a timely addition as the Organisation considers the membership of the French territories of St. Martin and Guadeloupe.
Data Management: The Launch of the updated OECS Centralised Database
The recently launched OECSInfo 2.0 provides the general public with web-based access to social and economic statistics such as labour force indicators, population, education and inflation rates. This platform plays a key role into the decision-making process and strategic analysis for the development of Member States.
Security: The creation of complementary regional systems
In addition to the regional focal points for law and order, the Regional Security System (RSS) and the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the 64th Meeting of the OECS Authorityheld in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines proposed recommendations for ongoing support in the areas of border security and intelligence sharing, which will enhance concrete cooperation among Member States in the fight against criminal activities.
International Arena: Securing OECS interests
Discussions on the re-opening of a joint diplomatic Mission in Canada in order to strengthen ties with strategic partners began. The Authority also considered strengthening collaboration with the African Union and its 55 Member States as an opportunity to deepen south-south cooperation.
Creating Regional Health Insurance Coverage
Despite major improvements at a national level, Health Insurance is still a predominant issue. Under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Harris, the Authority discussed the implementation of a regional health insurance system able to provide specialised care at lower costs. This initiative will complement the work of the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service that saves regional governments an average of USD 4 Million every year.
Prime Minister Harris hands over the Chairmanship to Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of Saint Lucia, who will serve for one year.