Fri. 31st May, 2010

No. 6 Fifth Session Eighth ParliamentFriday 31st May, 2010Prayers Motion Apologies Orders of the Day AdjournmentSAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES (HANSARD) ADVANCE COPY OFFICIAL REPORT CONTENTS Monday 31st May 20101Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, National Security, Grenadines and Legal Affairs Dr. the Honourable Ralph GonsalvesDeputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade Honourable Louis StrakerMinister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Gender Affairs, Non-Governmental Organisations, Local Government, Persons with Disabilities, Youths and SportsHonourable Michael BrowneMinister of Rural Transformation, Information, Postal Service and Ecclesiastical Affairs Honourable Selmon WaltersMember for Central WindwardMember for Central LeewardMember for West St. GeorgeMember for South Central WindwardTHE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATESOFFICIAL REPORTPROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE SIXTH MEETING, FIFTH SESSION OF THE EIGHTH PARLIAMENT OF SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES CONSTITUTED AS SET OUT IN SCHEDULE 2 TO THE SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES ORDER, 1979.ELEVENTH SITTING31st May 2010HOUSE OF ASSEMBLYThe Honourable House of Assembly met at 10:10 a.m. in the Assembly Chamber, Court House, Kingstown.PRAYERS MR. SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR Honourable Hendrick Alexander Present MEMBERS OF CABINET2Minister of Health and the Environment Dr. Douglas SlaterMinister of Urban Development, Culture, Labour and Electoral Matters Rene BaptisteMinister of Transport and Works Honourable Clayton BurginMinister of Telecommunications, Science Technology and Industry Honourable Dr. Jerrol ThompsonMinister of Tourism Honourable Glen BeacheHonourable Conrad SayersMinister of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Physical Planning Lands and Surveys Honourable Saboto CaesarHonourable Julian FrancisParliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Honourable Michelle FifeHonourable Arnhim EustaceDr. the Honourable Godwin Friday Honourable Terrance OllivierreMember for South LeewardMember for West Kingstown Member for East St. GeorgeMember for North Leeward Member for South WindwardMember for Central Kingstown/ Deputy SpeakerGovernment Senator Government Senator Government SenatorOTHER MEMBERS OF THE HOUSELeader of the Opposition Member for East KingstownMember for Northern Grenadines Member for Southern Grenadines3Honourable Major St. Claire Leacock Honourable Daniel CummingsAttorney General Honourable Judith Jones-MorganMinister of Education Honourable Girlyn MiguelMinister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Honourable Montgomery DanielMinister of State in the Ministry of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Gender Affairs, Non-Governmental Organisations Relations, Persons with Disabilities, Youth and Sports Honourable Cecil MckieOpposition Senator Opposition SenatorABSENTMember for MarriaquaMember for North Windward4SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES HOUSE OF ASSEMBLYMONDAY 31ST MAY, 2010 PRAYERSHonourable Mr. Hendrick Alexander read the prayers of the House.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether we are going to be here beyond 5:00 p.m. so out of an abundance of caution I beg to move under Standing Order 12(5) that the proceedings of today’s sitting be exempted from the Standing Order hours of sitting.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and agreed to.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, may I be permitted to make an apology for the Honourable Attorney General who is absent. She is overseas on the business of the state, because today was in a sense an unscheduled day; she had already committed to travel for a matter.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I also wish to make an apology for the Honourable Minister of Education, Member for Marriaqua who is not feeling very well today and has asked to be excused from today’s sitting.ORDERS OF THE DAY MOTIONS4. MOTION ON OECS ECONOMIC UNION TREATYDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move the motion on OECS Economic Union Treaty standing in my name. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the Motion on the Order Paper reads as follows:WHEREAS each of the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines has agreed to broaden and deepen their sub-regional integration system.AND WHEREAS these said Governments have caused to be drafted an OECS Economic Union Treaty and on December 29, 2009, initialled it in Basseterre, St. Kitts, to replace the existing Treaty of Basseterre of 1981.page5image16352 page5image165125AND WHEREAS the OECS Union Treaty is currently under review in each of the aforesaid countries with a time-table set for signature and ratification by June 18, 2010.AND WHEREAS the Government of Montserrat has signalled its intention to adopt the OECS Economic Union Treaty but it is awaiting the requisite “Entrustments” or permission from the United Kingdom government to proceed fully.AND WHEREAS the Governments of Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands have decided to remain as “associate members” of the OECS and to participate only in the existing areas of functional cooperation.AND WHEREAS the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines intends to seek further amendments to the Draft Treaty particularly in relation to the “Coordination of Foreign Policy” (including the process of appointing Ambassadors/High Commissioners) and the Economic Protocol.AND WHEREAS the Government and Parliamentary Opposition in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have both publicly expressed their support broadly for the OECS Economic Union Treaty.AND WHEREAS it is necessary and desirable for parliamentary approval to be sought, with or without suggestions for further amendment of the Draft Treaty.BE IT RESOLVED (i) That this Honourable House endorse in principle an OECS Economic Union as detailed in the Draft OECS Economic Union Treaty, and(ii) That this Honourable House provide additional suggestions for consideration by the Heads of Government of the OECS countries for further amendment, if any, to the existing Draft Treaty.I so move. HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, the Motion having been moved and seconded now ready for debate. Is there any debate on the Motion?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the detailed preamble to the Motion and the operative clauses of the Motion are self explanatory. Nevertheless, they would require a further elaboration for Members of this Honourable House. It is important, Mr. Speaker, to address certain antecedents both within the OECS and in the wider CARICOM to provide a backdrop to where we are with this Draft Economic Union Treaty.Mr. Speaker, in 1981 the former West Indies Associated States Institutional Arrangements called “WIASIA” metamorphosed into a higher level of integration consequent upon the attainment of independence by the Member States save and except of course Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands. If I may saypage6image20768 page6image20928 page6image21088 page6image21248 page6image21408 page6image21568 page6image217286parenthetically the Premier of the British Virgin Islands always advises me that his country is not the British Virgin Islands, they are the Virgin Islands and that there are the US Virgin Islands and they are the Virgin Islands, but I shall use the formulation British Virgin Islands to make the distinction between those which are American and those which are British. Montserrat has always been the odd Member out of the colonies. Though Montserrat has not attained independence and it is still within a colonial framework, its location and historic interactions with other countries in the Leewards, particularly Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts Nevis, that they have always been treated differently and the British have always been supportive of the aspirations of the people of Montserrat to be part of the deeper regional arrangements whether within the Windwards and Leewards or in the wider CARICOM.Indeed, in 1973 when the Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed when every other member was either independent or self-governing in the sense of responsible for its own internal affairs, save and except for external affairs and defence, Britain permitted the colony of Montserrat to become a full member and signatory of the Treaty of Chaguaramas and when the Treaty was revised in 2001 they remained the only member of CARICOM which is a colony. One of the peculiarities will have in Montserrat as a full member of the OECS is that institutions like the World Bank would not have formal communication with the Chief Minister of Montserrat, but from time to time the Chief Minister of Montserrat would have to be Chairman of the OECS because you have a rotation. So when that happens someone has to interfaced, someone has to be selected by the OECS to interface with say the World Bank or indeed with the European Union or any other independent international agency and certainly in relation to the conduct of Foreign Affairs.It is important that I lay out these peculiarities and indeed anomalies and to show that we in the Caribbean, we work things out in a very practical way within our own interest. In other words it is not a blue print. In the same way in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union Montserrat is a Member of the Currency Union, Anguilla is a Member, because historically, Anguilla was part of St. Kitts and Nevis and Anguilla and remain even after the break, but the British Virgin Islands because of its close proximity and its interaction with the US Virgin Islands, they use the US dollar as their currency and it is a fact the British Virgin Islands is the only country in the English Speaking Caribbean where you still drive on the left hand side of the road while having left hand drive vehicles, because the left hand drive vehicles are imported from the US Virgin Islands and from the US, I give those peculiarities.Now, in 1981, 21 areas of functional cooperation were identified in the Treaty of Basseterre which incidentally was signed for St. Vincent and the Grenadines by the late Hudson Tannis. People forget too that the head of the People’s Revolutionary Government Maurice Bishop also signed and that was a peculiar revolutionary government. It remained part of the OECS Union, it remained part of the Currency Union, it even kept the Queen. It is the only revolutionary government that I knew anywhere in the world who has deliberately kept the Queen as Head of State. So this is the Caribbean with all sorts of peculiarities and on the face of it inconsistencies that is why we are a unique civilization.Now, in the 1981 Treaty of Basseterre there was certain institutional arrangements which were put in place, principal of which, the Heads of Government meeting known as the “OECS Authority” and they did their work coordinating in all areas of functional cooperation, some more than others. There was some other subsidiary7organisations, institutions like the Council of Ministers and the like and the Chief Executive was the Director General.We must not forget that the Treaty in 1981 took place in the context of the existence of a Treaty of Chaguaramas and then in 2001 consequent upon the historic meeting in Grenada of 1989 where the Heads of Government at that..., in Grande Anse took the decision to go towards a single market and single economy, it took the better part of eleven, twelve years to move from that declaration with the actual Treaty which I had the honour to sign on behalf of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in July in the Bahamas, July 2001.Now to move from Functional Cooperation in CARICOM to Single Market and Economy required the alteration of the Treaty and certain institutions. We must remember that CARICOM in 2001 the Revised Treaty rests on three pegs (1) Functional Cooperation in Health, Education, Meteorology, Disaster Preparedness and so on and so forth, all the various areas of human activity. Secondly, Economic Integration and we must remember that the 1973 Treaty of Chaguaramas was not only a free trade area coming on top of CARICOM, but had moved to a customs union and the customs union was in fact a free trade area plus the establishment of a Common External Tariff in relation to third countries exporting goods to our region or we importing goods from third countries. But it had always been felt that the 1973 Treaty addressing functional cooperation and essentially trade matters needed to go beyond it, needed to go beyond it, not just to trade but one single economic space with all the necessary regulations including all the financial arrangements, harmonisation of incentives and so on and to address the question of production in a single economy. So that is the second peg, Economic Integration. The third, in the 1973 Treaty of Chaguaramas is the Coordination of Foreign Policy and a fourth has since been added after 2001 the Coordination of Security. So it is now four pegs and the nature of the Economic Integration is at a qualitatively different level. Like for instance, the provisions in the Treaty of Chaguaramas addressing the matter of freedom of movement of persons, the right of establishment, the question of a trade court, the CCJ to settle disputes, I am not talking about the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction which is not necessary for the CSME.Of course you are always going to have single market issues waiting for implementation in a single economy phase and you can have single economy issues dealt with in the single market phase. It is not..., an ideal type, categories are not always manifested in a process, in a tidy process of that nature. In fact, that is the case of all integration movements all over the world and very often some commentators like to see it as a uni- linear process, but it never works like that in real life. In short, to climb Soufriere Mountain though the shortest distance between two points geometrically is a straight line, you are going to find difficulty to climb if you had to take zigzags.Now one of the problems with say with a single economy phase has to do with the question of the currency, but we in the OECS, we already have a common currency though we are not a single economy, but an interesting thing happened in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas for the wider CARICOM, we are doing all these functional cooperation matters, coordination of foreign policy, issues of security and moving from a customs union to a single market inquest for a single economy, but Mr. Speaker, to get those things done you need a governance arrangement within CARICOM beyond which we have at present. And one of the glaring incongruence’s is the quest for a single market and the quest for single economy with an administrative apparatus which is suited essentially to functional cooperation. CARICOM could not get beyond in 2001, it8could not swallow the issue of an executive CARICOM Commission, something akin to the European Commission and to the extent that they [inaudible] something for parliamentarians it was really an afterthought, an addendum so to speak and not integral to the arrangements of governance and this has always been a challenge. So in 2003 I was fortunate to have been appointed by CARICOM to head a prime ministerial group including Prime Minister Patterson, Prime Minister Manning then of Trinidad, Prime Minister Arthur, I am the only surviving one of this Prime Ministerial group. And the mandate given to us in 2003 at Rose Hall in Jamaica by the Heads of Government was to fashion a governance system which can accommodate the substantial goals of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas including the single market and the quest for a single economy. Three sub-committees were appointed. One on the issue of the governance arrangements simpliciter that was headed by Sir Shridath Ramphal, the one dealing with the financing of CARICOM was headed by Professor Compton Bourne President of the CDB and the third the issue of the Parliamentary Connections to the governance arrangement and that committee was headed by Professor Dennis Benn who was a student with me at Mona and we did our PhD together at the University of Manchester and as the Chairman I had to work very closely with these committees.The Committees duly reported CARICOM debated this report, but because the Committee submitted that you must have a commission, the executive authority came back. Some of the leaders did not want to go there again, so what they did, typical in CARICOM’s style of procrastination, they appointed a review committee to review the work of the Prime Ministerial group and the technical committees. Well from the time I saw that I know they intended to talk the subject to death. Professor Vaughan Lewis was put in charge of that Review Committee; he did a fantastic job, made some additional suggestions here and there, but basically said that the work which we did was splendid. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines at an intercessional meeting of CARICOM here, when I was in the Chair, we formerly accepted the Lewis Report then we talked it to death at one and two subsequent meeting and then with the exergues of time it has simply come off the agenda.I must say facilitating its removal from the agenda was the voluntary demitting of office by Prime Minister Patterson in Jamaica and then within a short while we expected general elections those elections came, my friend Bruce Golding won and very early Bruce made it very plain, the Prime Minister of Jamaica made it very plain that the sovereignty of Jamaica begins and ends at Palisades, that is to say, the Norman Manley Airport and give a clear indication that he is interesting in functional cooperation and a single market but to have a single economy would require governance arrangements which Jamaica would not be able to countenance, as I told him only half-jokingly the ghost of the failure of the federal experiment and of the referendum still governed Jamaica’s politics from the grave.When we saw that we could not make the advances, when we saw in the OECS we could not make the advances through CARICOM, we took the decision, look, we always want to have the Economic Union, we have elements already, we have a common court system, we have a common currency, we can do the other things and to have those other things you need to alter the governance arrangements inside of the OECS. So that this Economic Union Treaty is not only about an Economic Union, because many of the things on Economic Union here are inside of the CSME Treaty, the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, but what is here additional are advanced governance arrangements including the OECS Commission which is a new institution more authority for the OECS Authority, Heads of Government and for a legislative filter to work in conjunction with the OECS9Authority when the OECS Authority acts essentially in a legislative capacity in areas which have been designated by the Treaty for the OECS Authority to act.I believe Mr. Speaker that I have given as broadly as I can and succinctly why we had to move here, because some people may say, well why the difference? What is the difference between this and the Treaty of Chaguaramas. Well not only is it with a smaller group and is not only that we addressing the issues of Economic Union more pointedly and without water in your mouth. We are setting up institutions to carry the matter forward. So if CARICOM can be characterised as a loveless marriage where the partners have their own separate accounts and their own keys to enter the house, this one has a lot more joy and love in it.Mr. Speaker, I do not want a Euphemism which I use to be taken literally, but I am doing this purely by way of explanation, because one of the things nowadays, you cannot..., politicians cannot use metaphoric language it seems, you cannot use satirical language, you cannot use irony, because everybody who wants to take you literally and analyse and [inaudible] paused. For instance, I heard Mr. Speaker, on one radio station sometime ago, I say this parenthetically that the Prime Minister said that if he is working obeah, he is working obeah for the Lord, well now the point about it is this, I was just making a criticism of those who are saying that I getting things done so easily I must be working obeah and I say you know, I am doing the work of the Lord, I am not doing that of the devil and if I am working obeah, I am working obeah for the Lord. I never meant that the Lord deals with obeah. In fact, it is a phase which Archbishop Jones had used in a sermon in which I was present in order to use the same ironic and metaphoric figurative language just to carry a meaning and to put it within a context. So I..., nowadays..., and that is why they want a certain sameness of political correctness and therefore a richness of language emerges and the richness of thought, all you get is a kind of a banal analysing and pausing every single word and we have to be very careful about that otherwise that is the road ironically to the so-called 1984 the novel which authored by George Orwell where it reaches the stage that you have men and pigs and their sameness is such that you cannot even distinguish in the final analysis between men and pigs. I do not want to reach there and it is very difficult when one uses literary expressions and illusions to explain and to convey meanings that somebody brings a standard two interpretation to the different idea. Anyway, I say that parenthetically.So Mr. Speaker that is the context and that is the background. So where are we now with the Treaty? Article 4, I do not want to go through everything, because they have been circulated, but I want to address the main ones. Article 4 addresses the purposes and functions of the organisation. And as you would see the issues addressed as to the purposes, puts the functional corporation issues in context and also the other issues going towards the single economy. For instance, 4.1 (e) to establish the Economic Union as a single economic and financial space; and then 4.2 addresses the issues of joint actions and joint policies in a series of areas and those areas relate to functional cooperation and also the single market and single economy issue. For instance, defence and security, well we have the RSS where we work with Barbados already. Judiciary, we have a single judicial system and we want to make the magistracy regionalized. We are going to do that inside of the draft constitution, but that was not accepted so that has to be..., somewhere has to be fashioned to deal with it administratively though you could not have the constitutional support and so on and so forth and as we go down we see currency and central banking, we see (q) economic integration of the Member States through the provisions of the Economic Union Protocol and I want to draw attention to the fact there is a Protocol at the10back of the Treaty which goes through thirty-eight (38) articles and when you look at them you see particularly in the movement of persons you will see that it is more facilitating of freedom of movement of persons than the articles inside of the Treaty, the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.Now, there is in Article 5 something I must draw attention to Honourable Members 5.4 Nothing in this Treaty requires a Member State to undertake amendments to its Constitution, and its obligations as to implementation are circumscribed accordingly. And that is why I would want at this point just simply to note, and I will explain a little later, that a provision in Article 15 on the Coordination and Harmonisation of Foreign Policy addressing the issue of the process of appointing Ambassadors and High Commissioners is contrary to our Constitution and therefore that has to be amended. There is no question about it, because already there is a general undertaking as to implementation. Because we must remember this, at the end of the day we are building an Economic Union, not a political union, we are building an Economic Union amongst six independent countries which are sovereign and whatever we do has to be within the four walls of our existing constitution and that has to be an undertaking, otherwise, somebody will simply go to the court and challenge the provisions as being unconstitutional.Article 6 identifies certain Institutions of the Organisation and the Supreme Court is listed, the Central Bank and the Civil Aviation Authority. These are important because later on the integration in relation to each of those areas will be done through those institutions which possessed their own independence. Organs of the organisation at Article 7; the Authority of the Heads of Government, the Council of Ministers, the OECS Assembly, the Economic Affairs Council and the OECS Commission. As I have said, the OECS Assembly, the OECS Commission are new institutions, an additional authority is granted to the Heads of Government Authority and I will come to that shortly. Now if we were to look at Article 14, if we may skip a little and I will come back to address the issue of the enhanced authority. Mr. Speaker, because they connect with Article 5, Article 14 addresses Areas of Legislative Competence of the OECS Organisation and this is a fundamental article in this Treaty. The Member States agree to accord to the Organisation by delegation under Article 5.3 and subject to Article 5.4 exclusive legislative competence in relation to – (let us just pause there a moment and we will address the exclusive legislative competence). What 5.3 says, Mr. Speaker? To that end and without prejudice to the generality of the preceding paragraphs, here is where we go, each Member State undertakes to ensure by legislating to delegate to the organisation the Member States Authority to legislate in the areas of competence of the organisation under Article 14 of this Treaty that Acts of the organisation made by the OECS of the Authority, and Regulations and Orders made by the Council of Ministers under this Treaty, have direct effect in the Member State’s law in relation to the functions of public authorities of that Member State and then Article 5.4 addresses that all of this must be done within the framework of the Constitution.Now it is very..., 5.3 provide what is the source of the legislative authority. First of all, the Treaty and this Treaty will come back to Parliament in the form of a Bill and it becomes domestic law, but there may well be need for other laws, for instance, a common OECS Union Act which seeks to spell out some of the legislative areas beyond the Treaty, the details, but this has to be put into domestic law in the way in which the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas is domestic law. So we will be delegating to the OECS Authority certain areas of competence and the Heads of Government will make those decisions there, but within the framework of the Treaty and the law as it is brought here in each of the Parliament and similarly, authority would come too from11regulations and orders made by the Council of Ministers in the way in which Ministers do make Statutory Rules and Order or Cabinet, but the Ministers are the ones who do the signing. But all of what is done has to take place within the four walls of the Constitution.Now, if I may just, therefore, go Mr. Speaker, to the areas of exclusive legislative competence, what are those areas? A common market including customs union so that you have to have a common regime in relation to goods coming into these six countries, because that is important if we then go and look..., and all of this thing hangs together, if we then go and look, Mr. Speaker, at Article 10 of the Protocol, because Article 10 of the Protocol is a very serious Article, read it. Let us read it together 10.1 goods imported from outside the Economic Union area which are in free circulation in that area shall enjoy the privileges of goods produced within the area under Articles 4 – 6 and 9 of this Protocol save to the extent that provision is otherwise made by Article 9.1. 9 deals with dumping and subsidised imports and Articles 4 – 6 of the Protocol address issues of import duties and market area origin for tariff purposes and the common customs tariff. So, shall enjoy the privilege of goods produced within the area under Articles 4 – 6 and 9 of this protocol save to the extent that provisions is otherwise made by Article 9.1. Products 10.2..., products coming from a country outside the Economic Union area shall be considered to be in free circulation in the area if the import formalities have been complied with and any custom duties are charges having equivalent effect which are payable have been levied in any protocol Member State and if those products have not benefitted from a total or partial drawback of such duties or charges.Now, this is a matter it seems to me that we require more work on which we will have to do legislative work. I will explain what I mean. Let us take a simple example. It is difficult to take the section out because you will be taking out part of the heart and meat of the protocol. But let us take an example. Somebody..., currently if you go to St. Lucia, ordinary citizen, you live there for a year, normal person you buy a vehicle, you have paid duty on it in St. Lucia you want to bring your vehicle to St. Vincent and the Grenadines you have to pay duty again on it. Now properly speaking in a single economy you should not be required to pay the duty again, but what is the proportion of the duty that St. Lucia has collected which will be passed to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because the vehicle will now be here for a longer period than that in St. Lucia. I do not have any problem about issues concerning duties and the like, because you supposed to have a common regime. It may take five years before you get the common regime, but you will get a common regime. It may take three years, I do not know how long, those are practical matters, but we will reach a stage where we will have an identical regime. Now, it cannot be fair to St. Vincent and the Grenadines that you go into St. Lucia and you bring the vehicle in after you have been there just six months a year and then you are going to be here for five years and no duty comes on that.Now in the European Union, because you have a lot of movements of vehicles between the countries they have figured out that it sort of offset each other and what you would do, you are in France you put your vehicle on the ferry you come to Britain what you have to do when you arrive in Britain is to pay the insurance to be on the British roads, but the issue of the duty because they have the substantial movement they will take that any difference would be minimized. We will have to figure out that. I raised a practical problem here that is why I put it inside of the Motion as to an area which we have to discuss more. Clearly, Honourable Members, Mr. Speaker, you cannot remove it, because to remove it will be taking the heart and soul out of the Economic12Union Arrangements in so far as it relates to the movement of goods. So a) exclusive competence, common market including customs union, b) monetary policy the competence of this category to be exercised on the recommendation of the Monetary Council, well that is there already, we do not have a problem with that. Trade policy in a way we are working with that already through both the regional negotiating machinery and also the OECS trade desk and where we are going to have some challenges is you take the EPA, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a longer period of time for the removal of duties on goods coming out from the Europe than say St. Lucia. If you look at the schedule very carefully, you cannot negotiate that, therefore we have to take in whatever arrangements we are making, say for example, let us say it is a commodity it will come into St. Vincent..., it will come into St. Lucia sorry, because we have to remove the duties there sooner on certain commodities than in St. Vincent. So you bring them in from St. Lucia, but then there is no duty here. So you see the loss of revenue that we could have. So are some practical issues to be worked out.In short, as always we could agree on many general things, but we have to then come on a lot of these nitty- gritty. Maritime Jurisdiction and Maritime Boundaries well clearly that makes sense. Mr. Speaker, if I may just say this, it is generally accepted as a consequence of general geological studies that hydrocarbons that is to say, oil is in the exclusive economic zone in these islands. The detailed work for the drilling has not been done as the Honourable Leader of the Opposition will know and as Sir James will know because they held the office of Prime Minister. They know of the agreements with petroleum which agreements subsist, but there has been no exploration as yet. So it is important for us to have common maritime boundaries and we have to work these out with Barbados and we have to work these out with Trinidad and Tobago and we have to work it out with Venezuela because on the Western side of these islands in the depths where you will have more space for your exclusive economic zone there are competing claims by Venezuela. For instance, we know the issue with bird rock. If I may just say in that regard here in a nutshell, before we came to office the OECS had already conceded, the Governments of the OECS had already conceded Venezuela sovereignty over that parcel of land, but what we are saying upon the advice that we have received that it is a rock and not an island and therefore because it is not an island capable of sustaining human life by itself it does not qualify under the international law of the sea to the exclusive economic zone which an island, would be available to an island. And if it is a rock I think it is just twelve miles.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Prime Minister you have 10 minutes.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I am obliged, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this area is a vital area for common actor. I must say that I would have much preferred the Treaty arrangements which has been made between Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago, I would have been much preferred if it has been done to the OECS because Barbados had wanted to do the Treaty with us, Trinidad had signalled and I have always held the position every time it comes I put the matter in the hands of the OECS because I see the pitfalls in going country by country. Even when we go with our friendly CARICOM countries because it is not lost on me that Barbados and Trinidad ended up at an international tribunal and so too has Guyana and Suriname and with twenty three out of fifty one seats now going to the Balthazar Co Lisa in Suriname, questions in relations to the disputed area of oil and natural gas that we may see problems there.Mr. Speaker, may I just say this that we are not dealing here with rocket science, but we are dealing with a complicated problem, because between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela in the Gulf of Paria, Trinidad and13Venezuela have signed a unitisation agreement in respect of the hydrocarbons which are below the waters in the sea. I must say this is an area which has not been subject to much public policy discussion, but it is an important area, (e) civil aviation of course that will be addressed by the civil aviation, Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority for which we have passed the law. But notice the proviso, provided that the Member State need not take steps to repeal its laws in relation to such matters which laws are otherwise compatible with this Treaty in advance of the enactment of any Act of the organisation, but shall refrain with effect from the date of the coming into force with this Treaty from enacting any new legislation in relation to such matters save with the approval of or under powers delegated by the OECS Authority. Well that is sensible. So we are addressing the first set of issues in 14.1 what you call exclusive legislative competence.Mr. Speaker, there is another category in 14.2 again subject to the same constitutionality issue; there are now three areas of overriding legislative competence. To the Member States agree to accord the OECS organisation by delegation overriding legislative competence in relation to (a) common commercial policy (b) environmental policy; and (c) immigration policy. In other words the centre will have an overriding legislative competence in those areas. Reserving their right to legislate in relation to those matters within aspects of such policy not pre- empted by or under the authority of any act of the Organisation. You notice not a proviso but a reservation. I must say that Professor Carnegie who was the draftsperson has done wonderful work in this regard.Then 14.3 in the areas of legislative competence of the Organisation which do not fall under Article 14.1, the Organisation shall enact Acts of the Organisation only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot, in the opinion of the OECS Authority, be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale of the effects of the proposed actions, be better achieved by enacting an Act of the Organisation. So in addition to the five areas of legislative competence there may be other areas but on an ad hoc basis which is sensible. You need to have a provision in that regard.Mr. Speaker, if I may address Article 15 since I am close to it, if you read 15.2 it says, sorry, 15.4 well the whole of the sections coming down there of this Article, Heads of diplomatic or other missions of the Organisation, 15.4, shall be appointed by the Director General with the prior approval of the OECS Commission, provided that they may at any time resign their offices by written notice to the Director General, who shall promptly transmit any such notice to the Member States of the Organisation.Now with great respect, a Director General is not the Head of Government, Head of State, he or she cannot appoint an Ambassador. In the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines this is done by the Governor General upon the advice of the Prime Minister who is required to consult any authority which is required to be consulted. So for example, if I want a public servant as Prime Minister to be the Ambassador to Washington I would be constitutionally bound to consult with the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, because he is responsible for that public official. If I want to appoint somebody who is not a public servant I do not have to go the Chairman of the Public Service Commission because I would not be required to do so though of course I have always paid him the courtesy of doing so and the Governor General makes the appointment formally but he has to do so on the advice of the Prime Minister. So I come to my Cabinet colleagues I say John Brown is the person whom I am thinking about sending for the Governor General to appoint, I have done the necessary consultations, the Cabinet says yes, I formally advise the Governor General and he makes the appointment.14It is an important point I am making here, because in Brussels I do not know in the period of time when the Honourable Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister whether he had to deal with this issue either in Brussels or in Ottawa where we have ‘OECS Mission’. But our Ambassador to Brussels to the European Union and to Belgium because they are there within Brussels, I have to give an instrument to the Ambassador in Brussels directed to the king in Belgium, to the monarch in Belgium, appointing this person as Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but the receiving state Belgium said, we are prepared to accept a joint mission, but each person has to be appointed within the framework of the Constitution. What the OECS Director General is responsible for is confirming the appointment and she is given that authority by the OECS Commission because each Prime Minister will have a Commissioner who can say, well this person has been duly appointed you can go ahead and confirm the appointment with the terms of the appointment and then the Director General is responsible for the day-to-day..., for the administrative oversight of the person, but she must do so in conjunction with the Permanent Secretary in each of the independent countries where from whom the appointment is. It is a simple process, but the way in which it is formulated here, that has to be corrected otherwise it can be challenged.Mr. Speaker, may I just make a couple of other points as I wind up and I hope I have been helpful to Honourable Members. I know..., as you would see I am speaking without notes. I know this subject, I have lived with it all my live and I believe if I may say so just modestly that is why when in 2003 when CARICOM was looking for a Chairman of the Prime Ministerial group as the youngest Prime Minister in the sense of the most recent Prime Minister, I was elected to do this job in CARICOM and I have also been put in-charge of the task force in the OECS to provide the political direction for this process. The matter in which I have been writing since I have been 24, 25 years of age, so it is part of me and I can assist with the ins and out of this particular process.Mr. Speaker, at my insistence I had Article 10 put in. Article 10 addresses the OECS Assembly. The OECS Assembly is a legislative filter and you notice the composition of Members from the Government and Opposition sides of the House, they are selected and the Assembly would meet to discuss the Acts which have to come to the Authority, those Acts which address, both the legislative Acts, which address both exclusive and overriding competencies. The reason is that Parliamentarians across the region must have an opportunity to make their input. At the moment, because we are not one country the Parliament cannot be given legislative powers, but they are given a consultative authority and will be very difficult to see that a particular Act could be put into place if you have the OECS Assembly opposing this particular Act, any particular Act, but if you notice, I also asked and it was included there that in each case the Head of Government and the Leader of the Opposition must be in the OECS Assembly. You see what happened in the Federal Parliament Buster Mantis stayed home, Norman Manley stayed home, Eric Williams stayed home they did not go to the Federal Parliament, Ebenezer Joshua stayed home, Gairy stayed home, the only two Heads who went were Robert Bradshaw of St. Kitts Nevis and Anguilla (as it was at that time) and Sir Grantley Adams, those are the only ones. So that what the Parliament did, Federal Parliament limited as its authority was, people did not take it seriously, but you have this OECS Assembly with the Prime Ministers of each of the countries and the Leaders of the Opposition and you have that debate done broadcast regionally well then it will build the authority of the OECS Assembly and in time I would expect it to evolve in the way the European Union Parliament evolved with greater legislative authority and as we move towards hopefully a political union.15Mr. Speaker, I would say that I am disappointed that we may not be able to meet the 18th June deadline to sign, because I have spoken to two Governments and one says that it certainly would not be able to go to its Parliament to do what I am doing here before the 18th and the other says that they have a number of questions which they want to be clarified and I know at least one other country maybe two which would not complete this exercise which we are engaged in here. We have a teleconference tomorrow with the Heads and we will make a determination as to where we go. But the truth of the matter is that the OECS is the only show on the road and I will tell you this, it was (and I can say this without any water in my mouth) the response of Prime Minister Golding to the issue of the single economy and the governance arrangements in Antigua two years ago which prompted Patrick Manning then Prime Minister to say, look I want to hitch our wagon to the OECS Integration Movement because you guys are the only ones who are serious in carrying this thing forward and with the requisite governance arrangements.Mr. Speaker, in the region today, what do we have? We have a new government in Trinidad and Tobago which I am hoping would exercise some leadership in the integration movement. I have no reason to doubt that they would. We have a meltdown in Jamaica. I spoke just now about what is taking place in Suriname. Sadly my dear friend the Prime Minister of Barbados is not well. There is in a sense in CARICOM a paralysis and a lack of ambition, there is an inertia. We have to do what we have to do, we have to provide leadership and St. Vincent and the Grenadines has provided leadership in this regard for many a year. I would say that one of the important legacies of Sir James is his heroic efforts to have first of all an OECS political union and then a windwards political union. Maybe he pitched the star not to mix my metaphors. I do not think he can pitch the key. Maybe he pitched the star a little too far and high in respect of political union and particular unitary statehood as he was asking for, not taking sufficiently into consideration of our island nationalism and then after that failed it seemed as though they had knocked the shine off his ball in that regard and he focused on domestic...They have not knocked the shine off of my ball yet and I hope not [laughter] I am winding up now Mr. Speaker. I notice my Catholic brother is in a mood for joking today which is always good, a little picong. He knows he can answer that question that is something which one cannot say that the absence of that is present with me.Mr. Speaker when we have done and I hope that we have a unanimous approval today, I know the Honourable Leader of the Opposition and I we spoke on the same platform with Sir Dwight Venner and the OECS and he endorsed the Treaty in principle and in the broad ideas and I am quite sure that he will have one or two details here and there and he may wish clarification on or perhaps if we can do something more, but we must always bear in mind whatever we suggest here they are just suggestions. We adopt in principle so we can move forward. I have the support of the Parliament to do the signing and then the formal ratification will be made shortly thereafter by the Cabinet and then I will bring that which is signed and which has been ratified in Parliament for a Parliamentary debate on a Bill to put it into domestic law and then as I have indicated there are one or two things which we will have to put in also in domestic law to give heart and substance to this exercise.I am hoping that we can get there on the 18th the signing would take place in St. Lucia, but if some colleagues are not yet ready we will have to put it to a later date in St. Lucia, but this is the only show on the road. I urge that we give the support; this is an important moment in our history. I am obliged.16HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make my contribution to this very important debate we are having here today. Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that we can over emphasize the importance of the exercise that we have embarked on here today. Completion of this exercise by our region the OECS region is of critical importance to the lives of every citizen of the OECS going forward. I have a particular interest, Mr. Speaker, because the greater parts of my career as a public servant in the civil service of St. Vincent and the Grenadines had to do with regional integration. In fact, my specific responsibility as far back as 1972 had to do with being Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Agriculture, responsible specifically for dealing with integration, both at the level of CARICOM and the OECS. This included what is it you hear the Prime Minister referred to earlier, the Eastern Caribbean Common Market and CARIFTA and CARICOM. So I have a great familiarity, Mr. Speaker, with the history and the background provided by the Prime Minister in his presentation this morning.Today I was speaking on the telephone with a friend of mine and I happened to mention that the Parliament was meeting today and I suspect most Vincentians would be surprised with that, because not many people knew that the Parliament was suspended until this morning, so I said we are going to deal with the OECS Treaty and this is not..., this is a young man who I credit with a great deal of common sense, he said, what that has to do with us? That was the comment he made. I thought about the comment and in the end I put it to a failure on our part and I made our in the widest sense, to sufficiently overcome in the minds of Vincentians they believe that these things really are not particularly important. They do not have sufficient information and today is one day they should be listening and have an opportunity to learn more about the regional integration movement and the state that we are in today, because indeed it is a very important day.And then Mr. Speaker, I reflected on what it used to be like in those early days of the integration movement and I am struck by the fact that what we did then got more public notice than what we do now. You see in the early days of the ECCM which is the successor organisation to WIASIA there are a lot of practical aspects of the integration movement which the public knew about that information is given to them on a regular basis and I want to give a few examples about that because I think it is important because there are some lessons for us in terms of how our publics (and I am talking the OECS public) learn about the integration movement.I am assured that Members of this House would know of the agricultural marketing protocol, they would know that there was an oils and fats agreement and they would know that there was an industrial allocation scheme, because these things affected our lives in a very practical way. I am going to say a little bit about each of them because I think it brings home the point, Mr. Speaker, that people have to feel, they have to feel the integration movement at work and I agree with the Prime Minister that the OECS is really the only show in town now. A lot of time and effort has been wasted, a lot of time and effort and one felt at some times that we will never get to the stage where we will have a common economic space, even if we do not have political integration.Mr. Speaker, let me say something about the agricultural marketing protocol. That was an arrangement within the OECS/CARICOM in which we dealt with the sale of agricultural produce one island to the other. The farmers in Rose Hall and other parts of St. Vincent and the Grenadines but particularly that area, North Leeward, I know of the days when I, as a representative in the Ministry of Trade and Agriculture, will go to a council meeting and a certain amount of production of carrots would be allocated to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to produce for the next six month period and we will have many meetings and discussions and work17with the Ministry of Agriculture and farmers to make sure that St. Vincent and the Grenadines produce and therefore could sell the carrots allocated to it under this protocol. So people in a very practical way, Mr. Speaker, knew that is because we had an integration arrangement that allowed and gave us a market share of a certain amount of thousands of pounds, they knew that has to do with the regional integration and that scheme worked well for many years until in the case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines we developed a disease in our carrots which we never recovered from and it is finally said it has been caused by the fact that we did not allow the soil to rest, because people knew that they could sell month after month, they continue to plant in the same areas all the time until such time as you could do it no more and therefore they lost the allocation. And North Leeward is a prime example of that, they did extremely well in terms of meeting the requirements of the agricultural marketing protocol.Then Mr. Speaker, you had a similar arrangement for cooking oil, for the oils and fats agreement where again you had arrangements for allocation or for the quantities you produce to be sold in a region. These were done on an annual basis and it was your job, it was part of my job certainly to make sure that we met our allocation and therefore earned the funds; the monies, that came from such sale. And then, Mr. Speaker, you had the Industrial Allocation Scheme. This was an ECCM (East Caribbean Common Market) the same successor organisation to WIASIA for the OECS and under that scheme they tried to allocate industries to each island where that island would have the entire OECS market. The flour mill was allocated to St. Vincent and the Grenadines under that scheme, the production of flour, so was the production of mufflers allocated to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Well the flour did well and the mufflers failed because of lack of production. But the entire OECS market was allocated for both flour and mufflers to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.St. Lucia got beer as one of the products allocated to them and the whole idea was that we would have the entire OECS market and once you could show that you could meet the market then no licenses were given to bring any flour or other things, whatever the item was from outside of the region.To the genesis of the flour mill that we see down there is out of that industrial allocation scheme that we had at that time. A very important scheme but it took some political will and some of that will withered away after a time. We have beer when we should not have had beer because beer was allocated to St. Lucia, but so it went. But the point I wish to make in all these efforts is that people could identify them as part, as the result of the integration movement in the region. What do we have today that identifies any production with the region that people are constantly aware of? And that is why I got the comment this morning on the phone, what that has to do with us. And we may have to find mechanisms to broaden the understanding of our public in these matters.Mr. Speaker, the whole environment at the time was one where individual countries by themselves could have taken a lot of decisions once we are independent and not suffer any really adverse consequences of decision- making from other countries and I remember well when the lists of items that were banned from coming into St. Vincent and the Grenadines when Sir James was Minister of Agriculture, I believe at that time in a labour administration when that ban was put in place for several commodities in an effort to promote local production. It was very extensive; we worked for nights, Mr. Speaker, trying to develop that list because the emphasis was on what we could produce locally and therefore they give some breeding space to our own producers for them to be able to take a great advantage of the domestic market. But alas, Mr. Speaker, that world that we know then does not exist now with the advent of globalisation and the movement with trade liberalisation, free trade18movement, it has changed our world whether we want to accept it or not we ban anything now, because there would be consequences for banning. We do not have to worry about the WTO that was something we did not know anything about, if it was even there at the time. It did not exist and then you have the situation where more and more we found ourselves having if we want to survive to try and increase our own economic space.Most of our populations are 100,000 or less and even a combined grouping of the OECS at 584,000 persons is not a large market, but certainly it is better than one of 60,000 in terms of possibilities for investment and therefore, the importance of integration particularly economic integration cannot be doubted. It is here with us and we have to develop it further and that is what this Treaty is in effect doing. That is part of the background for this Treaty. That is why the Prime Minister can make the statement that is the only show in town, there is no other integration movement in our region has come to this level. A lot of time and effort has been wasted by our various countries and I am happy today that we are part of this exercise in which we are giving consideration to a revised or a new OECS Treaty.Mr. Speaker, we all know that for years we have had many areas of functional cooperation, many, many areas. We have in defence and security; judiciary, the administration of justice; we have in areas relating to our external relations, international trade agreements; financial and technical assistance; international marketing of goods and services including tourism services; and we have external transport including our civil aviation. So we have areas which our public really today should know that they are areas that arise because we have an integration movement that while they have areas of functional cooperation, there are in fact areas of integration and what we are seeking to do now in recognition of the state of the world and the extent in which it has changed we try to come up with institutional arrangements in trying in a Treaty which will put us in a better position, Mr. Speaker, to deal with the world outside, the newer world as we know it.And Mr. Speaker, I was happy when I saw Article 5 of the Treaty headed as this says, General Undertaking as to Implementation, because Mr. Speaker, it is no secret, none at all, that a lot of decisions have been taken in furtherance of integration movements in this region over the years from the 70’s right through to now which were good decisions, but they were not implemented because of lack of the necessary political will, because of distrust at the political level between our countries and things which we would have contributed to our development had they been done earlier would have put us in a better position today to deal with the international economic and financial crisis that we face, but they were not done.I remember some years ago Mr. Speaker, that the decision was taken, I think that one is CARICOM wide in relation to the head tax to cruise ship visitors to our region. Big song and dance, strong press release we line up as one against the cruise operators, who are dividing us in efforts to make more money for themselves. I remember that very well. Mr. Speaker, the weekend did not pass before one country announced, (which I had agreed) announced that they are going to reduce that head tax because somebody got to them. Other countries went ahead and implemented and had to back away after having implemented. That is the reality that is the reality of our time and today Mr. Speaker, as we debate this Treaty and particularly the general undertakings as to implementation I hope and I pray that our region is serious.Already you heard the Prime Minister mention that some countries are having difficulty meeting the 18th June deadline, I do not know all the reasons, they may be very valid reasons but this thing has been in the making for19some years now. It did not start yesterday and we should all be ready to meet the deadline of the 18th June, 2010. The world..., you know we come here in this Parliament because we have an interest in improving the standard of living of all our people. We are here too at a time when the circumstances in our world, the economic and financial circumstances are causing us to suffer hardship and pain and poverty, but this is one of the mechanisms that we have to implement if we have to get out of that poverty, Mr. Speaker, if we ought to carry our people along a path of development which will redound to their benefit that is what it is, so I am disappointed already to hear about the 18th June possibly having some difficulties.And Mr. Speaker, let me just say a little more about Article 5 and 14, it is in the implementation that have failed so far you know and this Treaty recognises that and it takes political courage to implement a mechanism which in fact reduces the sovereignty of our individual countries and delegate that authority to the OECS. Then in fact we find ourselves in certain specific areas that have been outlined in Article 14, we find ourselves responding to the real concern that is getting the stations that have been taken, getting them implemented and the specific areas and I will call them back out, Mr. Speaker, I know the Prime Minister has mentioned them but I want to mention them again, the specific areas in which that authority, you have the exclusive delegation, Article 5.4 so you give the centre legislative competence in relation to the common market including the customs union so that we deal in a particular way with goods coming into our region. The question of monetary policy, I think we have recognised all along that our Central Bank arrangements through the monetary council have served us well and are critical components of integration. We have the same currency, it is not like the rest of CARICOM where Trinidad is one rate and Guyana almost at no rate at all, we do not have that problem and that is because of a decision taken many years ago and implemented. It was not just discussed, it was implemented and the delinking from the British Pound which took place some 25, 26 years, and I went to that meeting with Hudson Tannis to tie our currency to the US dollar when at that time the World Bank and other institutions were saying that the way for us to move at that time was not just to delink from the pound, but to devalue our currency and the arrangements put in place then with respect to the monetary council is what we still have today and I have lived to see both the World Bank and the IMF now say that our currency is well within the boundaries that they should fall. But the point is it was implemented. We did not just talk about it, something was done about it and we have lived up to the arrangements that were put in place at that time.Mr. Speaker, you know if we could have done that with many other things years ago, we would not be here now debating this matter. We probably would have had a higher level of development in a single economic space a good time ago. Then there is the question of trade policy, you know, we do not even have the human resource base, because of the multiplicity of integration arrangements all over the world, so we would have had to resolve from a union, the RMN using the negotiating machinery to do all our negotiating for us with the level of CARICOM with the European Union, World Trade Organisation and all those bodies. Individual countries in this region are not in a position to do that, we cannot afford it; neither do we have all the human resources we need. A simple thing, like attending some of the WTO meeting, sometimes you [have] eight or nine committees meeting simultaneously and we have a delegation of two people, sometime one. So how we are going to participate? This is going to be taken next door in a room which you do not even know about because you do not have the human or financial resources to fully participate in those organisations. Then the more you pool your resources, both human and financial it left you in a position to deal with these issues. And that is what this is about today.20In our discussions on trade, our negotiations for the economic partnerships that we had with Europe, we had to put groups together to carry out that exercise. Today we are going a step forward. We are actually saying that we want economic space and we are going to do those things which we believe are critical, those implementation issues, we are not leaving it up to the whims of any particular country, we take a decision as a region and we have a regional organisation responsible for the legislative competence. It is a good thing. It is not anything to be sneezed at, it is a good thing and for those who are worried, those who are worried, Mr. Speaker, about the question of loss of sovereignty, let us recognise that inside of this document there is provision that the Prime Minister used the terminology earlier in his presentation for legislative filter, simply put we have a chance to see that delegated legislation, what it is made up of before it comes into effect. We have a chance to participate in its preparation and you have a chance to influence its development. That is what it is about.So you are not really technically losing any sovereignty. I do not know what sovereignty we have anyhow. We are not really losing that, what we are getting instead is a commitment to the implementation but we ourselves would have made a contribution to what is being implemented and therefore the section 10 I think it is with the Assembly of Parliamentarians including both Government and Opposition that is part of the filter, but the filter is even wider than that because certainly the authority in its normal work would be keeping an eye on all these matters and the authority is made up of all Heads of Government.So Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation at all when it comes to matters of this sort. We have the issue of Maritime Jurisdiction and Maritime Boundaries which I think the Prime Minister expanded upon when he spoke, but I want to point out that this country here, St. Vincent and the Grenadines despite its small size has I believe in the OECS the largest Maritime Boundaries, because of the fact that we are an Archipelago. There will be chain of islands going down. Our zone is larger than that of the other islands and therefore this issue of Maritime Jurisdiction and Maritime Boundaries is of importance to us. Then there is a civil aviation issue, Mr. Speaker, and there are areas for overriding legislative competence like common commercial policy, environmental policy and immigration policy and you know, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see in 14.3 that this Treaty goes a little further that even in areas that are not designated as areas of competence for the centre, legislative competence, our overriding legislation whether is provision if so decided by the organisation, its authority included, there are other areas he may want to bring in, any ad hoc areas.This shows, Mr. Speaker, that there is a climate here now which we must encourage, a climate which admits of the possibility of going beyond those areas that are being already identified and enshrined in this Treaty. I think that is something good, Mr. Speaker. Good for integration movement and good for the people whom all of us have pledged to serve.Mr. Speaker, it has taken a long time, not my intention to go into details in areas of the Treaty, it has taken a long time, Mr. Speaker, far too long to arrive at this moment, far too long and when what is called the larger integration movement, CARICOM, is taken into account they have to pull up their socks and; also Mr. Speaker, get ready to deal with questions of implementation. Nobody out there is going to wait for us, it is our responsibility to do it ourselves, and it is our responsibility. It is not something we can shrug off, if we do so, we do so to our peril and the economies of our region will suffer and hence our people will suffer and I want to urge all and sundry in the OECS, not just St. Vincent to take this Treaty very, very seriously.21We are talking if I can repeat about our future. We are talking about taking steps in a world that has changed drastically since 1993 and is changing all the time, the more globalisation, the more liberalisation of trade and therefore our ability to compete and operating that world is enhanced by having a single economic space and therefore to the extent that we could compete whether the goods or services to that extent that we will be better off, we will be better off, it is our job. Let us not lose the opportunity that is provided to us at this time. When other people had worked hard in this region at all levels, they bring us to where we are this morning, I thank them for that work, but I do not want it to fail, I want to see the implementation take place, I want to see the implementation of this Treaty take place and I would like to see that implementation, Mr. Speaker, be a reality before the first decade of this millennium is ended.Mr. Speaker, we have to go forth with confidence that we are on the right path and having taken these decisions the people of our region will thank us. I am much obliged.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, it is well known I was out of the country and came back rather late not even aware of the fact that you were having this discussion here today. But this is such a topic of such paramount importance, a topic that touches the lives of not only us here in the Parliament, not only us here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and not even those of the people in the OECS countries but further afield in CARICOM.Mr. Speaker, we have to seize the moment and the moment is now. Certainly, when the Opposition and the Government can speak with such passion, speak so eloquently on a topic has great significance for our economic wellbeing, the social development of our people then we know we are on the right path because there is no bickering, there is no confrontation, but we are all trying to do the best we can in the interest of our own development.Mr. Speaker, all over the world countries are coming together and forming unions. Some regional, some sub- regional, some are mega states even coming together in order to form greater economic integration for the benefit of realizing greater economies of scale. That is what we have seen in the case of NAFTA, that is what we have seen in the case of European Union, these area all unions that have come together economically in order to realise greater efficiencies and to provide for the wellbeing of their people. In Africa we have all kinds of integration groupings and many of these countries are much larger in terms of geographical area and population than our own and yet they find it necessary for their own survival to come together and form these groupings because we live in a different world.When I sat in for the Prime Minister in signing the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) we were almost rushed, I believe it was December 2007, to sign that agreement..., initial that agreement because we were told that we are just a small region, have to say an island, but the region itself is so small that the European Union was not going to waste time waiting on us in order to sign a comprehensive agreement, they were more focused on the larger countries in Africa and if we had not signed at that time we would have been off the radar screen and then we would be..., what would be imposed upon us was the general system of preferences which would have created higher tariff for our goods and services. So we had no choice but to sign that agreement at that time before 31st and we were meeting in early December. We had to sign before the 31st December otherwise the waiver that Cotonou provided to the WTO would have passed and we would automatically have gone on to22the general system of preferences. And part of the reason for us coming together is to form economically viable geographical areas that can deal with the outside world. The outside world a multilateral negotiations does not want to deal with a miniscule state here and a miniscule state there, they rather deal in bigger units and even though we are small as our EPA region is yet they will rather deal with us, that is why Dominican Republic was brought in so that they can deal with a larger geographical area than what we had in CARICOM and so this type of economic union integration is going on not only in Africa but in the pacific countries. Small countries and everything is relative, when we say some of them are small, they are countries of over half a million people, but of course there are those with very small populations. They have to bond themselves together; we have to bond ourselves together in order to deal with the outside world in a period of globalisation and trade liberalisation.So we must move forward, Mr. Speaker, seizing this moment because when we look around although this OECS Economic Union is in our interest, the Prime Minister has said the Leader of the Opposition has said, it seems as if there are people around who are not taking this thing too seriously and are dragging their feet and the fear is the fact that they have not addressed themselves to this Treaty as urgently and as seriously as we are doing here today lends itself to the belief that it is not of the importance that they ought to pay to this Treaty.Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition said that maybe we have not done a good job in terms of educating the public and he referred to the young man who asked, “what does that have to do with him” but sometimes Mr. Speaker, it does not matter how you try to impress upon some people the significance of what is happening in a globalised world. They pay scant attention to it and you cannot drag them screaming in order to inform them as to what is happening.My Ministry has had several meetings, we have invited the business community to deal with CARICOM Single Market and Economy, the EPA and when we found that they were not coming as we expected, we started visiting them at Campden Park and in the various businesses to ask them, “Do you really understand what is happening?” And they will tell you yes, and just dismissively yes, but when they run into trouble then they come to the Government, I say, well I did not understand that that was so, nobody said anything, but the information is always there given out, but sometimes people do not pay attention and only when they reach a point where they figure they would be affected then they look for scapegoats and then the Government becomes the scapegoats because we did not do enough. But we try to do the best we can in order to inform them.Mr. Speaker, this Treaty and this regional economic union, OECS Economic Union is one that we ought to feel proud as a region in moving forward both Government and Opposition ahead of many of our sister countries in order to provide the necessary framework, at least the beginning of it, to show that we view this thing very seriously. This is not only an Economic Union Treaty, but I can see in this Treaty here the embryonic stages of a political union of our countries. We have an assembly, we have a commission and we have other institutions that are laying the early foundations if we can move successfully into this Economic Union we can move on to a political union.Mr. Speaker, our Leaders have worked in the past. Those with vision have seen that we could not remain isolated countries in an evolving world. Those who saw the need for the integration of the Caribbean in the West Indies Federation worked hard, but there were others who were not so committed. You had great leaders who worked in bringing about the West Indies Federation: Norman Washington Manley; Eric Williams; Sir23Grantley Adams; Morrison in Grenada; Joshua, Cato, in St. Vincent; George Charles and La Cavedair in St. Lucia; Bradshaw in St. Kitts; Vere Bird in Antigua; and many others who have worked hard in order to forge a Caribbean Federation. Unfortunately, as the Prime Minister pointed out, many of the great leaders stayed at home with the exception of Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw and Sir Grantley Adams and of course Bustamante was not too sold on the Federation and painted a Referendum in which Referendum lost in Jamaica and Eric Williams say 1 from 10 leave zero and that was the end of that enterprise.We have been working in CARICOM to bring about some semblance of economic integration. We have had the CARICOM Single Market that was signed and frankly sometimes I feel that it is not moving as expeditiously as it should. We know what we faced with the CARICOM Single Economy and we know that we cannot move forward for Jamaica has drawn the line and with that I think it was wisely decided that we cannot wait on CARICOM. The OECS must move forward and create one economic space and that is what we are talking about here today. By creating the one economic space, we are seeking to remove all artificial impediments to economic transactions of goods, services, capital, and labour in any national state, so that these things can flow freely from one state to the other. When we talk about the artificial impediments we are talking about customs service, import duties, licensing fees, and things of that kind that would be an impediment to the free flow of goods and services, capital and labour, from one state in the OECS to the other. It does not mean that things would be identical in every OECS country. For of course there are variances. There are things that would be different, the cost of transportation, one of those would create a difference in the cost of certain commodities are services from one state to the other, but the objective of this union is to strengthen the economic position of the sub-region vis-a-vie the outside world, the global economic system and even the regional economic system.This would benefit many of our people here in terms of prices and those who are engaged in businesses in terms of the larger market and the expansion of trade. It would strengthen the economic linkages between members of the business community here and possibly in other Caribbean countries. We have gone through the experience of trade liberalisation with regards to our banana industry and we have seen that that has brought under the WTO rules the near demise of our banana industry here and we are dealing with a situation that is worldwide that is not always friendly to us and we as a group here of small island developing state in this region have every right to do whatever we can in order to promote business, employment or what have we for our people in this part of the world otherwise we would find ourselves totally marginalised. Even in the area of direct foreign investment, there are people who might not want to invest in every little state or there are people who in the OECS who might want to invest in other OECS states, by having this Economic Union, those with capital in one OECS state can invest in another OECS state or those who are abroad would be dealing with one economic space a larger market and thus that investment would redound to the employment of the whole region and the enrichment of our people.We would have in this Economic Union free movement of goods and services, labour, capital and with the free movement of capital, we would seek ultimately to have a coordination of macroeconomic policy especially in fiscal and monetary matters. We would have a unified exchange rate or common currency as we do now in the OECS; we have one central bank, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and one currency, the Eastern Caribbean Currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, a single currency for our region. We would have the free movement of goods which would entail fiscal charges such as import duties and custom duties on goods imported from one24OECS country to another free and we would have several types of benefit that would accrue to our people. Product prices being reduced because when we remove tariffs and non-tariff barriers, this would benefit the purchasers as well as businesses in providing cheaper goods for our people, we would have greater competition and by this greater competition, we would be opening up national markets to other enterprises and making our enterprises more effective if they are to be competitive and competition is likely to make firms want to improve better quality of their goods. We are going to have the free movement of labour that our people can move freely from one country to the other to set up their own businesses or in carrying their skill from one OECS country to the other without let or hindrance.So that if there is need for a particular skill or labour in one country, workers can go to that country and it would redound to the benefit of those who are employing, because there would not be a scarcity there, that would send the price of labour up high, because you would be joined from several countries and of course our people would be encouraged to take advantage of enhancing their skills, their education in order to provide the requisite skills and education for areas that would be necessary and required. There would be a free movement of capital that would be flowing into our areas, various countries, you can just move across border lines and invest their money and there would be free trade in services that is within the Economic Union purchasers can purchase services in any of the Member States from any supplier in any of the Member States and thus reduce the cost and the quality of the services that we would enjoy.So Mr. Speaker, it is in the interest of all of our people to support the Economic Union Treaty before us and to move forward creating our own space moving forward and doing the best we can in laying the foundation for a better region, one that would no longer be marginalised, but one that can provide quality service, quality goods and enhance the wellbeing of all of our people.Mr. Speaker, I wish this Resolution total approval and trust that our sister countries would move forward expeditiously so that we all can realise this experience if not by the 18th June, shortly thereafter. Thank you, Mr. Speaker [applause].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Any other debate? DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I do not know if my Honourable friend would like tospeak before lunch or after lunch. DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Before. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, all right then.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to add my voice to this very important debate really Mr. Speaker, to indicate my support for the comments that has been made here so far by the Members on both sides of the House and to be as clear as I can, Mr. Speaker, in calling for the movement towards an Economic Union closer cooperation among the peoples of the Caribbean but in this particular instance, the smaller region of the OECS.25Mr. Speaker, even with all that we are doing and the importance of the occasion to reach to a stage where we can agree on a document which promises closer economic union among the people, we are still dealing only with a very small part of our Caribbean. In most agreements of this sort, we talk about millions of people participating on markets of almost limitless scope. Here for us even with all of the countries of the OECS coming together, we are still a micro state on the world stage, so we have to keep these things into context, Mr. Speaker. But I want, Mr. Speaker, someone who has also followed the progress of our movement towards, I should [say], movement back towards a greater unity among the Caribbean people, because let us not forget you know, this is not the first time there would be a single economic space. There was one before under colonialism. The only difference there, Mr. Speaker, it was not done for our benefit. In that case it was done for the benefit of the metropolitan country. Now we want to create something that is for the benefit of our own people here in the Caribbean and it is something that all of us in this Honourable House support unreservedly but what we need to do, Mr. Speaker, is to ensure that the same kind of commitment and passion that we share here is reflected in the general population throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines and also in the rest of the OECS.Mr. Speaker, imagine a world for our children growing up for whom St. Vincent and the Grenadines is really a physical space but in their minds they are thinking of something much larger that they have transcended the geographical space that is surrounded by water which so often gets inculcated in our own habits and in our feelings towards one another, but which in fact is such a small space. Imagine when you go to Fancy you can see St. Lucia and how many people from St. Vincent and the Grenadines have never made the trek across.Mr. Speaker, this is something obviously that is long overdue. I think if we can in our generation leave something better for our children to aspire towards that all the work that was done by Sir James and the earlier generation of politicians and social activists will not have been in vain, but like the grass after the drought it will begin to flower and to grow and to make the landscape look so much more fruitful.Mr. Speaker, it is not a dream that is wishful thinking, it is also a necessity for us. This is not something that we want to create a Utopia on earth; we are talking about our survival in a world that is becoming more and more hostile. We as micro states, you have to make your way in the world and the friends that we can rely on we have to start with our neighbours. If we cannot do that here then how are we going to reach across the pond, far distances to friends when we cannot watch each other’s’ back here in the OECS.Mr. Speaker, that is really what we are seeing a flowering. Sir Louis said in his speech that there is in this, the early stages of political union. Well I would take it one step at a time. I think the legislative council that is proposed for the filtering of legislation from a commission, it has promised and it also has this, Mr. Speaker, perhaps there is an opportunity that it would be broadcast, we have an opportunity for the debate to take place on a regional level, thus far the discussions have been done at the levels of Ministers and Experts and Governments and then the report comes back to each individual Parliament and is then disseminated in our own way; however, it is filtered through our own domestic politics, but an organ that has a regional scope where you have the opportunity to debate and to be heard in Antigua, in Dominica, in St. Vincent, in Anguilla, in Montserrat, simultaneously and you have to bridge these insular differences which have divided us so long, Mr. Speaker, because you are not pitching for just your constituents you have to be much more responsible much more conscious, Mr. Speaker, of the larger project, of the larger importance of our Caribbean people making26our way in a hostile world and we have the capacity within the people, Mr. Speaker, we have one of the most educated populations anywhere on the face of this earth. We have people who are experienced in democratic institutions and who defend them vigorously.We have institutions Mr. Speaker that function at a first world level in our region. And I have a lot of hope, but more than that I have a lot of expectation, Mr. Speaker, for the work that has been done here today and for the OECS as an example of what is possible in our Caribbean region. You know the thing is the document itself looks fine, we could scribble about little things here and there but you do not have to be perfect. At the level of the authority there has to still be the will among the political leaders that when they get there to discuss issues that they do not just get side-tracked by smaller petty ambitions or personal matters when we have a larger issue to deal with. Institutions, Mr. Speaker, only function when people who are occupying these little cubicles that we create in the document actually the work that is required. You can have the best Treaty, but if at the meetings nothing gets accomplished, then we are back to square one. I do not think that is what is going to happen here, because I believe that the same kind of commitment that we show in this House is replicated throughout the OECS and that effort would be taken to involve our people, because this cannot be a matter just simply for the big boys, it cannot be for the manufacturers who want to sell their goods in Antigua and Dominica, it has to be for everybody, for the fisherman, for the carpenter, the mason, for the auto mechanic and all these other people, Mr. Speaker, who want to look for opportunities to expand and to make a better living and to provide for themselves and in so doing building better and stronger communities.It has to be, Mr. Speaker. It cannot be a situation as we have repeatedly and I know individual cases of a Grenadian or a St. Lucian who comes to work here, does not have papers, has been here for two or three years successfully integrated into the community, gets into maybe a little scuffle with somebody his neighbour or whatever then you becomes of interest to the police, they pick him up send him back to Grenada, to St. Lucia leaving behind a young family, split apart in this land of our Caribbean integration and that is true, Mr. Speaker, I see it. I know of a case right now the families are here in St. Vincent the children and the mother, the father is in Grenada and the families cannot come together, they have to decide what to do. She has no status in Grenada; he has no status in St. Vincent.Mr. Speaker, this is the only way in which the OECS will mean anything to the citizens of the OECS. It would not happen just simply from a matter of trade agreements or differences in prices for paint or flour or whatever is imported. What matters most is when people labour can move as freely as capital. Internationally you know, capital always has more rights than labour, but when people can also move then there is the incentive to ensure that the fruits of our capital investment can spread around so that people can stay at home if they choose to, they can go to St. Lucia to look for better opportunity if they choose to or to St. Vincent or to Grenada and not just the profits from their economic enterprise moving all over the place and accumulating more and the people not benefiting from it. That is really when it would start to matter and when the gentleman Mr. Eustace that the Leader of the Opposition spoke with will begin to see that this has something in it for him.And we need not fear, Mr. Speaker, being overrun. I think that is always the fear, St. Lucians are afraid that Vincentians will overrun them, but we have the same fear, so what are we going to do, exchange populations? It simply is not going to happen. Everybody likes to live where they have their friends, where their roots are27and so long as there are economic opportunities there, the people will stay there and build decent lives and contribute to building a stronger economic union and a better place for our future generations in the OECS.Mr. Speaker, we will have to give up some sovereignty, individual state sovereignty, but it is not some alien body that is coming to impose legislation from the top on us as in colonial days, it is still the components of the OECS forming legislation that we believe are in the best interests for our people and of course there is the filter of the assembly that will allow for more discussion and dissemination of the policies and programmes that are being pursued.Mr. Speaker, I too I am in a haste as the Honourable Leader of the Opposition. This is a case where haste I think is justified because as I have said before, it is not just a dream or wishful thinking, it is essential to our survival as people living and working and contributing and aspiring, Mr. Speaker, so that our children can believe that there is a brighter future for them here in the Caribbean and not always have to go overseas and I think, Mr. Speaker, we will have succeeded when generations to come, when they begin to think of themselves not primarily as Vincentians, Antiguans, Dominicans, but as citizens of the OECS of the Caribbean, loving your own where you are born and you grow up but also recognising that we are part of something larger, something not just to aspire to, but something that helps to define us and something, Mr. Speaker, that puts bread on our tables as well.I support this legislation this legislation wholeheartedly and I pray, Mr. Speaker, that will, the political will that created the legal document will find expression in the institutions that it created, in the policies that are pursued and in a willingness to find compromise when it is necessary so that we can all move forward. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable, I recognised the Honourable Member for North Leeward, so I will take you right after the break.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, it is an appropriate time for lunch, accordingly I beg to move that this Honourable House do stand suspended for the luncheon period until 3:00 p.m.Question put and agreed to. House suspended at 1:05 p.m. [Luncheon] House resumed at 3:12 p.m.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for Central Kingstown, we have not waived the rules or we have not made a decision in relation to your request. Conventions, yes we..., when we broke for the luncheon period I recognised then the Honourable Member for North Leeward, I do invite him now to make his presentation.HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise very proudly to add my bit of this Motion. Mr. Speaker, it is Psalms 133 V 1 which states, “behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to deal together in unity”. It is also said that “whatever disunites man from God also you disunite man from man.”28Mr. Speaker, this Motion introducing economic union has been long in its making, the twist, the turns, the doubts, the prospects and the possibilities of all being debated over the years and decades. Unity though is not just between nations, more so Mr. Speaker, it is between people. People always come to the table with diverse thoughts, beliefs, likes, dislikes and prejudices, however, Mr. Speaker, unity is not uniformity. It must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety, differences; therefore, must be integrated, not annihilated, it must somewhere be observed.Mr. Speaker, there is quite a famous quote, men often hate each other because they fear each other, they fear each other because they do not know each other, they do not know each other because they could not communicate and they cannot communicate because they are separate. This quote came from the stride towards freedom, the Montgomery story 1958 by Martin Luther King. Mr. Speaker, here in the OECS Economic Union has its challenges, but there is more that connects us than divides us. In a more simplified way of looking at this and it was already mentioned before, this long quest and courtship I would say, our OECS Economic Union, is that it is not so much dissimilar from relationships and from marriage about when people come together there usually have to be a desire and a need, but in this case there is not only a desire, there is also a number of external forces and processes which in their impact serve to further catalyse, bring the union together. Unity to be real must stand the severest strains without breaking. Unity in itself helps to withstand these very strains, for united we stand, divided we fall.The OECS and the entire Caribbean region like the rest of the world is currently beset with economic challenges. It is oil crisis, global warming and all the associated issues, sea level rise, hurricanes, other disasters or more recent the global financial crisis. The impact of these crises which is absolutely not thought of any of the islands here in the OECS, however comes at a time when integration is now a necessity rather than just a desire. It is interesting when you look at the history lesson that we had today about the past way of unification through the ages, from the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.It was interesting though when I remember what the Leader of the Opposition said, and he mentioned what Agriculture used to be like, for instance North Leeward, he did not specifically mention Rose Hall in particular and Mr. Speaker, then we had the close of the Belmont Agricultural Depot in the 90’s an act that some persons in the area I will say will go down in infamy, but Mr. Speaker, I would say we hope this year by re-establishing a network of other such facilities that maybe instead of just looking at the export of produce we actually may be able to deal with some of our added local demands, those of the hotels, the Buccament Bay Hotel and so linking Agriculture with Tourism.Mr. Speaker, there was a further mention of cooking oil, we also brings to mind the great financial benefits that was brought from that industry, the coconut oil industry and how it fell prey to the false global propaganda, the coconut oil contain cholesterol, this was unfortunate. But Mr. Speaker, one could certainly not ignore the fact that the region has to form a united block to mitigate these negative impacts of globalisation and throughout the world, regions, alliances as the Deputy Prime Minister would have indicated have been spanned with varying success, the big one, the European Union has gone a distance, it has its challenges, it is one of the largest, if not the largest economic block in the world.29Mr. Speaker, in our own hemisphere although some Latin American and Caribbean Countries have paid some lip service to integration taking the concrete steps needed to attain it was much more difficult than simply issuing directives and declaration. In the wake of the collapse of the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) Continent one would have said even if integration has prevailed we might have faced a number of dilemmas in terms of issues that were remaining, but even if integration revealed agreements on the type of integration to be constructed may well have still created some division. The history has been told of what happened at CARICOM and that the road to regional integration at that level was paved with good intentions that produce a number of small games but too many of the goals and the proposals have failed to materialise under the Treaty of Chaguaramas more so to produce economic integration in the wider Caribbean.Mr. Speaker, one more day or week of delay action is a day or year too late for our people. The people of our region are crying out for help, they are crying out for integration and unity, they watch CNN, BBC, they go online, they are much more aware of what is happening around the world, there will always be persons who would be a little pessimistic, maybe persons like mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, who spoke to him early this morning, but I believe that they are in the minority and let us respond whilst there is time. The root of this problem lies with political will both at the level of leadership and also at the level of our people.Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations. Since the launch of this initiative at the Peach Memorial Hall there has been consultations held with the Trade Unions, consultations held with the Social Science Teachers at both the primary and the secondary school level, all of them, with the Bar Association, with the Chambers of Industry and Commerce, there has been a briefing session with the Opposition, there has been radio and TV programmes, there has even been a movie skit talking about the OECS Unity. We hope that before the 18th there are further initiatives in order that we can go forward.Mr. Speaker, it may not be enough that we can reach everyone, but this is a process that must continue. Mr. Speaker, I repeat that there..., here in the OECS there is more that connects us than divides us and the inability to consummate the wider CARICOM Economic Union or the FTAA should not daunt us in any way. We should realise that our process should be accelerated.Mr. Speaker, we cannot stand still or slip backwards, we must go forward together, less we are judged as being faint of heart at the critical juncture and time when we most need to and so I am very pleased to see that the other side of the House, the Opposition is in support of this Motion.Mr. Speaker, the document at hand speaks of the way in which the function, the OECS is organised and if one..., and I am hoping that persons would be able to go and see this document online at the Government website, Gov.wesee.com as well redo website. But Mr. Speaker, the function of the OECS is, I have outlined the purpose and function of the organisation is outlined in Article 4 item 4.1 and it has seven basic functions. Many of these are geared towards trying to use the Economies of Scale cost savings and the use and benefits of having one single voice and a few deals with the success for participation in [the] regional global economy.Mr. Speaker, I do not believe, it might sound strange that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a nation that is too small. I believe that being small has some advantages, but unification and the greater Economies of Scale has greater advantages. And I also believe that for decades we have been relatively unknown and I recall, if I can say this very lightly travelling to Morocco early in the 90’s and Mr. Speaker, I showed my green Vincentian30passport and Mr. Speaker, the immigration service there in Morocco did not know where St. Vincent and the Grenadines was. Mr. Speaker, they took me to a map, a map that was the size of..., half the size of this carpet Mr. Speaker, in front here, half the size, a massive map, it was about 8 feet by about 10 feet and Mr. Speaker, I am ashamed to say that when I went through the map I could the island, I could see it, it outlined the shape, but there was no name saying St. Vincent and the Grenadines [laughter] and Mr. Speaker, after a series of translations and so forth, someone who spoke decent English was able to come and they knew of Barbados, they knew of Jamaica and they knew of Trinidad and they..., it was very unfortunate.Mr. Speaker that is an issue in terms of the competitiveness of a relation, Mr. Speaker, that is why, I must say this, our exploration of getting a seat on the security council supported by every country in the OECS was so important among other things, St. Vincent, the OECS and the Caribbean would have been placed further on the world stage and the enormous publicity and promotion, Minister Beach could not have purchased that sort of promotion, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, getting into this particular document of the Motion, Mr. Speaker, the member state shall implement decisions of the organisation under this Treaty and coordinate, harmonise and undertake joint actions and pursue joint policies in 23 field and others as may deem fit. Some of these were outlined before, 23 areas, the neutral defence, the judiciary, the external relations, international training agreements, audit, telecommunications, statistics, 23 vital areas.Mr. Speaker, previously on the Treaty of Basseterre we have the authority, the Heads of Government, we have the economic council I must say which did not meet very frequently because there was very little collaboration on economic concerns. There was ministerial council, I have met with Tourism and Health and Telecommunication and there was a secretariat. So what is new? Well it has been outlined before I think that for the listeners it is important to repeat Article 5 on the General Undertaking as to Implementation states in 5.1 Member States shall take all appropriate measures, whether general or particular, to ensure the carrying out of obligations arising out of this Treaty or resulting from decisions taken by the institutions of the Organisation. They shall facilitate the achievement of the purposes of the Organisation.In the second section, 5.2 In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the preceding paragraph, each Member State shall take all steps to secure the enactment of such legislation as is necessary to give effect to this Treaty and decisions taken there under. Mr. Speaker that forms the basis by which the Treaty binds the different countries which are committed to this process, and Mr. Speaker, I would say there are two giant steps, two major constructs, there is the notion..., the first I would say is the notion of legislative competence where Member States will delegate the process of law making to this new agencies for execution in five specific areas as outlined in Article 14 of the Treaty and this Article 14 the Areas of Legislative Competence of the Organisation, again in 14.1 the Member States agree to accord to the Organisation under Article 5.3 and subject to Article 5.4 legislative competence in relation to – common market including customs union; monetary policy, the competence in this category to be exercised on the recommendation of the Monetary Council; trade policy; maritime jurisdiction and maritime boundaries; and civil aviation, the competence in this category to be exercised on the recommendation of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority. These five areas are the areas where the Authority will be able to make laws and us as nation will basically..., we have delegated that process to them and I think that is a major, major step.31But once the OECS Members are not required to change existing legislation, the new legislation will supersede legislation at the national level. Now there are three areas identified in a separate category as overlying legislative competence. So we have talked of legislative competence in five areas and these three additional areas and in 14.2 The Member States agree to accord to the Organisation under Article 5.3 and subject to Article 5.4 legislative competence, that is overlying legislative competence in common commercial policy; environmental policy; and immigration policy; reserving their right to legislate in relation to those matters within aspects of such policy not pre-empted by or under the authority of any Act of the Organisation.Mr. Speaker, I think that that is a major and what it does, it essentially, they are called to the OECS by delegation and give the right to the authority only in areas if it is agreed by the Member States in those last three areas. Any other areas in is the purview of the Member States, so that is the first major construct. The second major construct as I see it is the introduction of the legislative assembly. There will be representatives from the National Parliament in a kind of proportional fashion and they will review intended legislation before it is contemplated to be passed. It would be a sounding board and the authority will take guidance from this. Mr. Speaker, these two pillars are major steps forward. There are other steps to be taken. These are not baby steps these are giant steps and I feel that the success of these particular steps would certainly lead to the other steps that must be taken in the phased approach to the whole Economic Union.Mr. Speaker, in this globalised world in each Member State, if each Member State tries to do things by themselves the cost mounts, enormous, in the EU now almost everything is shown to the European Assembly and I want to bring in one of these areas the telecommunications, Mr. Speaker, the service of ECTEL and this is an excellent example of synergy. I have had the privilege of being the Minister of Telecommunication for almost nine years. I have held the chairmanship of the council on several occasions and led that organisation through some very difficult periods and negotiations. If St. Vincent and the Grenadines was doing that alone it would be a costly affair, if I start to tell you about the costs of implementing a price cap plan doing the interconnection agreement, battling between the providers who are battling sometimes with themselves, it is a very, very difficult and expensive task and the ability of several nations, five nations to be able to do that together has been a major, major, major cost aid.Mr. Speaker, the Treaty is also the council of Ministers which I would have mentioned and then there is the Economic Union Protocol. Mr. Speaker, how would the Economic Union work in its economic developmental context? The Prime Minister mentioned Article 10 where goods in free circulation in the Economic Union Area, we cited example of the importation of a vehicle, let us say a vehicle was imported through St. Lucia, duty would have been collected and then say that person were to bring it over to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The current language allows for citizens and OECS citizens to bring that vehicle over with them, but there must be further processing and negotiations in this particular act to deal with the aspect of revenue sharing, because once duty is paid in another country well you know, it may be a good idea, a great idea if some of that revenue would come to other island if those goods actually going to land up in that other island.Mr. Speaker, I also want to for in terms of the way this Economic Union is going to work as the Minister for Telecommunication and ICT I want to stress the importance of information communication technology in helping this to work. Clearly it is going to be a lot of administrative reforms that have to put into place and the32Economies of Scale and whatever it is, however, I believe that information communication technology would be a driver of Economic Union.Mr. Speaker, just a week and a half ago we launched what was called the e-GRIP project that is the Electronic Government project and it is an OECS project in which the countries of the OECS have stated and manage. Mr. Speaker, one of those provisions is whereby we are going to integrate the various Customs Authorities. Our Customs Authority very soon within a next month and a half or two is going to launch ASYCUDA World. Two years ago they launched ASYCUDA plus-plus and the private sector is applauding ASYCUDA plus-plus as being tremendous. In the first few months when it was launched there was much criticisms, but it all become real supporters of ASYCUDA plus-plus, well we are now going to ASYCUDA World, it is a web based facility that is absolutely tremendous, it will cut down on the number of days required for clearance and things like that, but this e-GRIP project is going to serve to help to integrate the various customs so that as I mentioned, if the car is imported in one country information and so forth would be somewhere through this integrated process accessible to other countries and so forth.Mr. Speaker, I would not go into details but there are wealth of other initiatives that are being done at the regional level through this e-GRIP project and because I would have spoken about this before I would not go into the details of this but this very week the e-GRIP people are here and they are training a lot..., looking at some of the details of how we are going to carry this thing forward. Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the Prime Minister has talked about using video conferencing in order to speak with the other Heads of Government. Mr. Speaker, I long for the day and it will certainly take some additional legislation when we can reduce the level of the amount of air travel that we need to do by participating in meeting with video conferencing. I know it may take some time before we have video conferencing here in Parliament, this Parliament, but I see no reason why in terms of the regional assembly, why there cannot be video conferencing as a means of participation in that and as I travel around the Caribbean and the world today, video conferencing does not require your physical presence to be there in a meeting and over the next three months in addition to the video conferencing facility that the Prime Minister uses at the ECCB we are going to be introducing some additional units here within the Government so that the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism all the other Ministries and other entities could use this modality to communicate. This is tremendous to be major costs savings in a situation where air travel sometimes takes too long. I must say you are going to St. Kitts it will take you the whole day, coming back it will take you the whole day for a one day meeting and three days could be lost when you could get everything done in a matter of three four hours of video conferencing. Mr. Speaker, I am excited by this sort of stuff.Now, Mr. Speaker, in due course I want to give a commitment that the various e-government (electronic government) initiatives that have been identified are things that we will put into place, sometimes the funding is not always there to put an effective modality, but I am really pleased that with this world bank funded project or the e-GRIP project that the funding is there, the resources are there, the expertise is there and we are going to get it right and I think as a result we will help to improve the chance and we know the chance of success of the Economic Union.Mr. Speaker, I know that the OECS is in negotiation with the European Union for maybe as much as $6.5 million from the 10th EDF to support the Economic Union, to make sure that this is something that works,33because having the funds to make it work is essential and clearly that is going be needed for continued public education. Mr. Speaker, before I get down in this rather brief presentation for me, I want to applaud the efforts of the Honourable Prime Minister. You know sometimes I believe that the efforts that persons make in these regards they do not always go unnoticed but is sometimes not appreciated and his efforts as being Chairman of the CARICOM group is quite noted. Being in-charge of the political direction of the OECS Unity, his leader at the Monetary Council during the time at the height of the global economic crisis where we coined the phrase that we should not let a good crisis go to waste that if at any point in time we need to accelerate the processes.Mr. Speaker, we all have to step forward and as Ministers as we engage our other Ministers whether it is in social development or culture or tourism or health we essentially have to make absolutely that they are fully on board because sometimes, and I am really glad with that earlier provision that really binds everybody. Sometimes four five six countries go along with things; one country has lagged behind holds up sometimes a very important process. I am really pleased by this Treaty. I want to support the Motion wholeheartedly and once again, I want again to pledge my own ministry the effort in helping with a kind of oil and the glue, this is financial oil but I think information communication technology has tremendous possibilities in helping us as disparate countries, separated by seawater, but having great similarities to be able to come together in many regards. Mr. Speaker, I am obliged.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, on an occasion like this I really am pleased to take a few minutes of the Parliament’s time to make a few observations on a very momentous occasion such as this one is. Mr. Speaker, I want to, as all other Members of this Honourable House thus far, totally endorse this initiative and to pray that not only here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines but throughout the OECS nothing would be made to stand in the way of this significant development.I want however Mr. Speaker to make a few observations specifically on this Resolution and if I begin by looking at the second WHEREAS on the Order Paper the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines intends to seek further amendments to the Draft Treaty particularly in relation to coordination of foreign policy etcetera. I listened to the comments from the Honourable Prime Minister relative to this, Mr. Speaker, but I am a little bit confused and I seek some clarification. On the document that I have before me on page 16 this is Article 15 Coordination and Harmonisation of Foreign Policy and if I look in particular at section 15.4, it says, the Director General shall have the authority and responsibility for transmitting directives of the OECS Authority on the joint, sorry, 15.4 Heads of Diplomatic or other missions of the Organisation shall be appointed, I repeat Heads of Diplomatic or other missions of the Organisation shall be appointed by the Director General with a prior approval of the OECS Commission provided that they may at any time resign etcetera, etcetera.What I am trying to follow here Mr. Speaker, my understanding is the broader objective of this exercise is to help OECS countries reduce the cost of running these institutions and that wherever possible we will seek to have joint or singular as the case may be, representation of the various missions, so that it is, and there are other clauses which stipulate the conditions under which people must be selected and rotation etcetera, etcetera, so I am a little bit lost as to why this area is of concern to us and I shall await the explanation for that.Mr. Speaker, I want to join the Honourable Jerrol Thompson in singling out ECTEL for the role it had played in the OECS and indeed, Mr. Speaker, there are other similar institutions, the Electricity Companies for example34have CARILEC, the water companies have CBWMP, these are institutions which help the OECS territories to pool their resources in very meaningful ways. Mr. Speaker, over the years I have been more than sadden by the lack of initiative on the part of other OECS territories to strengthen these relationships particularly in the area of water, solid waste and sewage, etcetera, because there are so much all of us in the OECS can benefit from by sharing the various resources, all of us has strengths and weaknesses and one would hope that just as the proposal here speaks of going further into the magistracy that all of these areas would seek, that the OECS authority would seek to find ways and means of really translating these kinds of cooperation into results which would help the man on the street to understand what this getting together is about.In terms of the OECS Assembly, Mr. Speaker, I am hoping that we are not going to have on one of the islands a grandiose Parliament where people go and meet, I would hope that all of the Parliaments in the OECS would be enhanced where necessary and that these meetings can be rotated. There is a reason for this, Mr. Speaker, OECS people need to feel part of the whole thing and having everybody going in one country all the time, all of us will not feel that we are part of the process so I am only hoping that [interruption], excellent because that is one way I believe, Mr. Speaker, of helping all of the people of the OECS to appreciate what this initiative is about.Mr. Speaker I am one of those persons who really do not have any fear whatsoever about opening up these islands and making travel free and working conditions easy among all the people of the OECS territory. I believe oftentimes we underestimate the power of our own people, we underestimate our abilities. I mean we do not have to go back too far when our forefathers went down to Curacao and to Trinidad when times were different. In fact a lot of us have roots in Trinidad and in those places because of the movement of our people. It didn’t have any negative...it had short term implications but these things always settle out in the process of time, but the benefits are enormous and a number of our fore-parents were able to get education and create opportunities for us. There will always be short term ripples but I am one who believes absolutely that people will handle these things in their own way, and we really do not have to be worried.One of the areas I see of true...OECS integration unification working is in the area of Tourism. It hasn’t been long when the Cricket World Cup made it possible for people from around the world to come to the Caribbean and move from one territory to the other with far less restrictive measures. I am hoping that, when I hear us talking here about harmonisation of immigration and so on, Mr. Speaker, there are, I believe, a lot of people in Caribbean from Trinidad, from the more affluent smaller territories who would love to take a vacation island hopping, the OECS is a remarkable destination. I believe quite honestly that the easing of these really draconian immigration measures will go a long way to enhance this movement of people and can enhance our tourism product. There are so much... we often speak of the beauty of these islands but although there is such diversity, there are so much similarities and every island has a unique experience it really baffles my mind that so many of our Caribbean people still look to New York as a vacation destination, I really, especially a place like Brooklyn and I am lost as to why that could be. So, Mr. Speaker I am hoping quite honestly that this would create greater opportunities for our people, not only OECS people but Caribbean wide people to get a better appreciation of these islands by a more relaxed opportunity for movements.On matters of the environment, Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased that this is one of the areas that we are thinking of and I hope you take it to reality looking at a regional approach, an OECS approach to preserving and35protecting the environment and enacting legislation. Mr. Speaker, the area of the OECS from an environmental point of view is really a challenging one, there are so many varying issues from the denuding of the hills on Dominica and St. Lucia, even Grenada and St. Vincent and the impact that this is having on the tourism product by the destruction of our coral reefs. There are a number of OECS people who have been trained specifically in these areas who understand but they are not being able to impact on their own individual territory, one would only hope that we look very seriously at the sustainability of the very unique product that we have in these islands. I believe that by going collectively it would make it easier for the particular island Government to sell a particular type of measure in an individual territory, and I am being very blunt here, Mr. Speaker, we all know that in the development thrust there are always people who turn their noses [up] at environmental issues and any time you open your mouth on a project from an environmental point of view you are labelled as anti-the-project. I believe a reaching out prospective will help all, both the developer and the countries to strike a more sensible balance in moving projects forward even as we try to take all the practical measures to alleviate the problems that the environment would face with the natural course of development. We all appreciate the need to continue to look for varying projects and more often than not these projects are likely to have various denigrating effect on our environment so again I am hoping, Mr. Speaker, that this unity approach of the OECS would give a tremendous fillip to more environmental awareness and to a harmonious approach to preserving the environment, as I said even as we develop these islands for the good of all the people.Mr. Speaker, I said I am going to be brief and those really are the observations I want to make except if you permit me to say, Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Louis Straker spoke about the circulation of information and the Honourable Jerrol Thompson spoke of discussions with the Opposition party here. Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Arnhim Eustace is not one to blow his trumpet but I am advised and I have every reason to believe it, because I sat for a number of hours in a session at the office of the New Democratic Party with officials from the OECS where a very broad cross-section of the membership of the New Democratic Party met with officials from the OECS and discussed in depth a number of related issues and that was an initiative of the Honourable Arnhim Eustace. I am also informed, Mr. Speaker, that the New Democratic Party is the only Opposition Party in the OECS that avails itself of this kind of opportunity. I am pleased to have been part of that because it gave me an opportunity to get another prospective on where we are and I say that, Mr. Speaker, to remind us, you know, we have to be very mindful and never underestimate the ability of the average man on the street to appreciate what we are trying to do and I say we, in general term here now, in their interest. And sometimes when you give out information it is misunderstood but I believe giving out the information and allowing people to raise questions whether the questions are uninformed or even stupid, it offers an opportunity to correct it and to bring the issue to fore. Oftentimes you know, the misunderstanding of a subject can lead people to go into much more detail and result in much more clarity to a wide cross-section of the people. What I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is I watch the initialing of this Treaty on television last year and is only within the last week I got a copy of the document, and I know members on this side, I was out of the country and I got it electronically, and I know members on this side only got it a few days before that. This is the kind of document I think that should have been more widely circulated and long time ago, and not just to academics and so forth you know we really need to tell people what is happening and give them opportunities to have easy access to information, you know, nowadays we think that is everybody has access to the internet, we have not reached there as yet, we have a lot of work to do in that area, so you know, make copies available at the libraries or wherever so that the teachers everybody can help the broader population to have an appreciation. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.36HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it would have been remiss of me not to participate in this debate because I feel very strongly that I am an integrationist, I feel better to be called just a Caribbean man than to be a Vincentian. Many of the previous speakers have gone into the details of this Treaty, historical and other information that is very important and I wish to endorse all of it. Mr. Speaker, I am very proud today and I wish that more of our debates can follow this pattern where the Opposition and the Government can really identify areas of common good and put some more emphasis in it. I wish the debate on our constitutional reform would have gone this way but that is passé.Mr. Speaker I do not think I can speak with the eloquence of some of my predecessors, as a scientist I like to go as we say straight to the jugular, I believe that I have heard of some speakers say, including the Leader of the Opposition that it seems to me as if there are many people out there who really are not aware of what we are doing here. We can say that is a failure on our part but would that be correct? I doubt. I listen to my Honourable friend Senator Cummings and he said that this document should have been more available and I said all of us need to be more responsible and make more effort in being assertive and seeking information, as Leaders I think that is our responsibility and having said that I think the task now is for us to do what we should have done and to do more of what we are doing now. I believe it is important that we speak more in language that is attractive to the “average person” and that is more understandable. I note now and earlier we had a significant amount of persons in the gallery who are radio personalities, members of the media and I want to put the challenge to them to follow suit what is happening in Parliament and help us to carry that message out there because there is a lot of listenership and if it is couched in language that is attractive enough our people will listen and they will learn.Mr. Speaker, we hear a lot about economies of scale and I think it is something that most people understand. I think one of the things we can do to get this message a little clearer about the importance of Treaty of Basseterre and the unity among us why it is important is to make people, give them hard examples of where it works and to see where it can even work better.Mr. Speaker, I want to raise as Minister of Health, we hear a lot of talk and by-partisan politics about medications and how much we owe and that is good examples of where unity is strengthened. Mr. Speaker, since 2000 to 2009 we have been spending, from then about $2 million to pretty much close to $5 million a year in one of the OECS bodies that has worked the pharmaceutical procurement services of the OECS. Mr. Speaker, I am told that we save an average about 20% and there are times where up to 30% on the cost of drugs buying in pooled quantities, so Mr. Speaker, when we pay as this year, last year we paid around $4 million on supplies, it is saying that had we not done it that way we would have been paying probably about $4.4 million. So that is one direct way we are saving. So we are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars on just this aspect of unity in the OECS.Mr. Speaker, and when we speak of Economies of Scale it becomes a joke when we travel. I just came from Uruguay, which is one of the smallest countries in South America, it has a population of 3.3 million and I listened to my colleague Minister Thompson about couldn’t find St. Vincent on the map and I ran into some of those problems. Mr. Speaker we went to visit a small farmer to see some environmental projects, Mr. Speaker I ask the farmer in Spanish, what was the size of his farm, he told me it was 190 hectors, 1 hector which I found out recently is almost 2.5 acres, now that is small farmer, he had 200 heads of cattle, about 50 of them where37milking and his big problem was, his operation is too small, so he cannot generate enough profits and when he ask me, “how big is your island?” I told him I did not know...I was not too certain but I made a rough calculation and said well, we are about 350 to 400 square kilometers, to make it sound plenty nah. If I tell him in miles, [laughter] is only 150 so I had to try and make us sound bigger, so I gave him in square kilometers. He asked me again if I said hundred, I say but I know Spanish, I said hundred, he said you sure you do not mean 400, 000, I said no, no, no, no, hundreds. We take these lightly but it is important that we understand the importance of what we are discussing here. So he scratches his head he say, alright if you say so, but you know how much is 190 hectors, it is almost 500 acres you know, and that is one small farmer.Now we are small but we are not going nowhere, we are not going to move out the world and as bad as things get we are going to survive. How we survive is what is important, we can do so struggling by ourselves as individual countries, or do so a little easier joining together and taking advantage of the obvious benefits of OECS and hopefully Caribbean Unity and I think we have a responsibility all of us in saying this, practicing it, demonstrate it that it can work and that it does work.Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be Vincentian because it is comforting to know that we are all together with this in our Parliament and that we are ahead with Leadership, we have heard of over the years of the untiring leadership, by many of our leaders. Sir James was a strong integrationist, Mr. Cato was and we are proud now to have a Prime Minister who is undoubtedly one of the strongest Prime Ministers in the CARICOM region with respect to Regional Integration. Mr. Speaker, but the Private Sector I think needs to get on board some more, from time to time I am very critical of the Private Sector and I will continue to do so where I think it is necessary.Mr. Speaker, I believe we must look forward to some of the potential benefits of this unity we are talking about. Mr. Speaker, just let us suppose one of our islands finds significant amounts of oil reserved, as it is today we have close ties with Venezuela and we get certain benefits but we cannot get the maximum benefits because Venezuela as much as it wants cannot because of Treaties and regulations sell us oil below oil mark, their agreed OPEC prices, because we are a different territory and whereas they might give us concessionary loans they cannot sell us less. However if OECS is a unit country or a unitary space and one country finds oil they cannot tell us how to sell to the other one like in Venezuela gasoline is dirt cheap, in Trinidad it is so, they can do it for their own territory so that is one way we need to...that is where I think the argument should go so that people could understand because we never know St. Vincent might hit oil some time and our neighbouring country we might want to help them by selling them at very concessionary prices so that we do not have to breech any OPEC or whatever laws there is.Mr. Speaker, I want to join with my Honourable friend Senator Cummings too, in terms of environmental impact. We often have problems, what do we do with some of our waste tyres, what do we do with our derelict vehicles? If each of our countries are to put in place a plant to handle them is waste of money, one run on any of these plants and we take care of all the tyres in St. Vincent as much as they saying...one run in compressing cars and we do the same. So it makes a lot of sense if we can identify one country, set up a significant plant and move all these products there, but we may need certain legislations and other things and also cooperation from the Private Sector. Somebody needs to be brave enough to take the initiative and do not depend on the State so38much for initiatives like that. We hear about tourism and movements of our people, just imagine how nice it would be if a private company from the OECS set up a ferry service and we go back to the days, well the youngsters would not know about Federal Palm and Federal Maple, no, the Senators, no, they would not know about that, when that was the way that people...I know about it, I nah young, ah look young, thanks for the compliment, but for the youngsters in the gallery and on this side, no none over there, this was one way that we got to know the Caribbean very cheaply. I remember my aunt who I grew up with was a Head teacher and they traveled the region on these boats, it was like the regional cruise shipping. These are initiative that we can reconsider because as we here, to travel to Barbados or to another island is more now than traveling from New York to Barbados, there are people who come from New York to Barbados to St. Vincent just recently and told me that the cost of the ticket from Barbados to St. Vincent was more than the cost from New York to Barbados and all those are some of the reasons why we really have to support our International Airport. Yesterday as I came home there are people who are really upset about having to pay $60 more for one extra piece because they came down with two pieces, and they not weighing it anymore, it could be an extra handbag, you have to pay $60. So it makes a lot of sense that is just by the way but I just gave you examples of how important this thing about unity is.Mr. Speaker, just imagine if private companies in the OECS were to say, you know what, let us order all of the goods that we bring from out of the region jointly, all the motor cars, again economies of scale, if the car agencies were to say, let us order from Japan our cars together and when they get to the Caribbean we redistribute them. I am certain they would save money and persons who are buying cars would get them cheaper. Any other products you would think of, so Mr. Speaker there is a lot of reasons why what we are doing here makes a lot of sense. Mr. Speaker, so I really want to register to our people that do not feel left out, do not be telling your representatives or our Leaders or asking them what does this have to do with us, you must know, to those who are listening, you need to make some effort to get to know, let us and maybe, just maybe Mr. Speaker, this is an opportunity for all of us to take, we have a lot of radio stations here and all of us who listen them know that most of them are now becoming so partisan, let us ease up on the rabid partisanship that we have on the radio stations and help to educate our people and I heard this morning the Prime Minister speaking about metaphors and puns and how people take them wrongly sometimes. I was just thinking, why not let us be nice, you know, let us be nice to our people and shake them up, shake them up towards the benefits of unity and in doing so I remember the motto of the Grammar School, ‘Per Aspera ad Astra’, ‘through rough ways to the stars’. You know if we could just do a little bit of that we may well find that OECS unity with the support of our people can be successful. As I said, our country is not going to as much as we believe in climate change and all the dangers that we would be confronted with, we will be around for a long time, how we manage being around is what is important now. As Leaders we have a responsibility to do our utmost, I am encouraged that this team of leadership is indicating their willingness to do what we should be doing. Let us all work together to encourage our people, sometimes our people are in the leadership you know, in this respect, many of us here have demonstrated our commitment to Caribbean unity, we have spouses from other countries, many of us right here in the Parliament and I think that is a strong a way of demonstrating regional integration as possible. Let us continue in very visible ways, very firm ways of demonstrating to our people that it can work. Yes Senator Cummings, I know [laughs]. Let us be Leaders, let us lead by example, let us lead by encouragement, let us ourselves get better informed and educated and let us share what we know and advise people accordingly because you know too many times in the interest of narrow political partisanship we mislead either by omission39or by commission. There are times when we know things are right but for our political reasons we say differently and there are times when things are obviously wrong and instead of we guide our people properly, we endorse and encourage them.Mr. Speaker, just to drift a little to give an example, I mentioned it in the last opportunity I had in debating in this house and there is a particular group in this country where in the name and they call it ‘free speech and freedom of speech’ that I hear continually advocating the disuse of vaccination and immunization. I thought that having given what I consider a scientific explanation I thought that where there are so many persons who know differently that they would have been encouraged to desist from such but they continue and it is worrying because if...there is a tendency of what people hear on the radio or see in Newspapers, many people, too many people believe it is true and when we have persons who I would say either out of ignorance or maliciousness will continue spreading information that they have very little technical command of and there are persons who may know better and do not try to discourage it, it is worrying. Mr. Speaker, that is just one example, I am saying as leaders we have a responsibility to lead in the interest of this country.Mr. Speaker, this Treaty of Basseterre is an important historical issue, I think that all OECS citizens, as we say this is not the only game in town, it is the best game in town now, if the rest of CARICOM cannot keep up with the pace let us as the OECS move on, we are hoping that they will catch up later but we have demonstrated our common currency and its strength, our many other institutions already debated have been success stories and I am confident and optimistic that we can prevail and succeed. So Mr. Speaker, with those few words I wish this motion, as it is obvious that it is going to be successful certainly in this Parliament and hope that the other Parliaments of the region will have an easy passage as we have had here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I’m much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate?HONOURABLE SELMON WALTERS: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I rise to give support to this motion before the House for tighter OECS economic union in the sub region. Mr. Speaker, this is nothing new in terms of seeking some form of union in the sub-region and perhaps the wider Caribbean. Mr. Speaker, 25 years ago as a teacher I won a competition for a slogan on which was sell OECS unity, that is 25 years ago. I wrote the slogan in very few words, it said, ‘OECS unity forward to the 21st century’, and for my efforts 25 years ago, Mr. Speaker, I won $200. The 21st century is with us and yet, Mr. Speaker, we have not really moved significantly to any form of unity, many leaders before tried, you have heard mention of the federation and those who worked to bring it to pass, we have heard efforts by past Leaders of the country, Sir James tried and now our Prime Minister is spearheading OECS Economic Union, we have heard talks before of maybe some form of unity with the Windward Islands and Trinidad and Tobago and it seems as though, Mr. Speaker, in a globalised environment some form of unity is the way to go. In a globalised environment, Mr. Speaker, where we are small there are significant advantages for being small in a globalise world, many private sector entities seem to realise this and people are forging linkages, partnerships to make their business more viable.The airline industry, Mr. Speaker, perhaps is one that we can look at, one of the largest airlines in the business British Airways is looking for partnership with Iberia another large airline. Right here in the Caribbean we have40seen what I may call the demise of Air Jamaica being taken over by CAL. So people form bonds, unions, linkages to make things work.The OECS, Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, has a population of maybe just over 500,000 people and that is considered small in the world. As a matter of fact in some cities you may have the population of over 2 or 3 million people in one city and in these small islands where we have just about 500,000 people, the way to go is to form linkages. There is much, Mr. Speaker, that unites us than divides us as an OECS people and the foundation is laid for economic union on which we can work. For example we have a common currency, that is a significant occurrence on which to hang it, then the movement of people through the islands, Mr. Speaker, is perhaps one way of signalling among ourselves that that is the way to go. Large numbers of our people move among the islands, the traffickers for example have created for themselves an economic space where they move among the islands and trade in agricultural commodities et cetera. So they have begun, themselves, to operate in the space that we are now proposing.Mr. Speaker, this morning I heard the Leader of the Opposition saying, well what does this mean to the ordinary man on the street, when he hears about OECS economic union, he may well ask us what does this mean to me, how is it going to benefit me, what am I going to get from it? Well there are many benefits, Mr. Speaker, that can be derived from forging this union. For example, the domestic market, all these small islands have their own miniscule domestic markets where we sell, trade amount by ourselves, sometimes when the production is more than consumption then people export, the traffickers for example, they take the produce up islands or down south. How about one domestic market within the OECS sub-region? Mr. Speaker, we have seen the decline in our banana industry, the removal of the preferential treatment in Europe has created some hardships in the export and I believe that the way to go is forge stronger bonds within the regional market and maybe the OECS as a wider domestic market can take care of the Windward bananas. I know for example tremendous volumes of Latin American bananas come in to the Leeward Islands, Antigua for example, St. Martin, a lot of Latin American bananas come into those islands, so we form one economic space and right away we are widen the market for Windward bananas within the OECS sub-region. So we make it more difficult for Latin bananas to come in because there is this one domestic market and naturally the Windward bananas would have preference within the OECS market instead of the Latin bananas, the same holds true for sugar or other commodities. So right away we can say to the man on the street, an OECS economic union will mean much for the farmers in terms of broadening the domestic market and creating an outlet for agricultural produce and there is scope for this, Mr. Speaker, because with enhanced tourism in the Leeward islands and perhaps further up north there is always a market for food and the Windwards can well take up that.Mr. Speaker, also in tourism there is scope to enhance the take if we forge this union. Some time ago, Mr. Speaker, there was talk of implementing a head tax on the tourists as they come to the region and many of the islands agreed on a particular amount for the head tax, some tried to implement it, others went behind back and sabotage it charging a lower fee thus derailing the whole idea of taking some more from the tourist. So an OECS economic union would see a oneness in terms of the approach to tourism, a oneness in terms of the marketing, a oneness in terms of whatever tax to be levied on the industry, so the take, Mr. Speaker, would not be St. Kitts going by itself or St. Vincent going by itself or Dominica; it would be a oneness, a one approach and therefore you will take more from the industry to enhance the tourism within the islands.41Additionally, Mr. Speaker, many of the cruise ships go to Dominica for water and that is good, they go to Dominica for whatever cost, whether they get it free or what, I do not know but they get water in Dominica, how about the cruise ships getting their ripe bananas from the Windwards, say from St. Vincent or say from St. Lucia, these things can be worked out as we forge a oneness so each island, Mr. Speaker, as we form the one economic space would have its own product that it can sell to whoever are the buyers. So Dominica sells water to the cruise ship industry, St. Vincent and St. Lucia sells bananas, or our fruits or what have you, we are forging a space to take more rather than everybody going to compete, sometimes we may hear that St. Lucia has sold some bananas to the cruise ship industry and then Dominica wants to do the same thing and we going there dong a rat race, cutting each other’s throat when we should really have formed a unity and approach instead a systematic thing and take more from it. So the proposed unity, Mr. Speaker, is indeed the way to go in terms of agriculture, in terms of taking more from tourism, we should do that and sell a diverse product to the industry, each island selling its own product, we take more from it.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, in terms of addressing natural disasters, we are living in hurricane zones, sometimes every year we are faced with these storms coming through creating much havoc to the environment, to the agriculture, to the housing stock and this holds tremendous implications for the insurance industry and when each island, Mr. Speaker, has to look after its own insurance cost after one of these disasters, you can see sometimes the industry declares itself bankrupt not being able to carry the cost. In the past Grenada had storms twice in two years and they had to do their rebuilding at tremendous cost for the state and for the insurance companies. Let us supposing, Mr. Speaker, that we forge an economic union where the cost is spread across the islands and let us say for example that we have one common or two or three insurance companies that are spread across the islands, it would mean that the cost is spread right through the islands, it would not only see a quick response after the disaster but it would bring down the cost for the insurance to the consumers because the population then would be wider than each island going by itself to do its own insuring, so then the union is the way to go. As the cost is spread across the islands in terms of rebuilding in terms of the whole service that is offered, there is much to be had in that also.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, there is a oneness among us as OECS people and every time I see the traffickers going from island to island I realise how they seem to have gotten it before those of us who are the politicians, they seem to have gone ahead of us and I think we need to catch up with them in doing this.Mr. Speaker, the financial sector will also benefit from the economic union as proposed because you will realise, Mr. Speaker that each of the islands has its own indigenous bank. You will hear the National Commercial Bank of St. Vincent, the National Commercial Bank of Antigua and of St. Lucia and of Dominica and many of these small banking enterprises Mr. Speaker in a financial crisis would suffer losses, many of them will go under, many of them were actually bailed out by Governments or by other international agencies. But let us suppose that we unify the banking sector in the OECS, let us say for example if we have one indigenous bank across the OECS, call it whatever name you want to call it, and unify all the resources in that banking sector, you will see that more monies, Mr. Speaker, would be made available from which the Private Sector individuals can borrow. So right away you are making more monies available to all the people in the OECS who want to do business by unifying, by harnessing of all the resources and bringing it together.42The same holds too, Mr. Speaker, in the offshore banking sector because each of the islands would have gone into its own offshore banking industry and many of the islands would have incurred the wrath of international agencies and those who want to put us out of business by creating blacklist here, blacklist there and forcing banks to leave because your legislation is not up to date, you hear you are not complying with this, you are not complying with that and you are pushed out of the business. So what do we do to counteract that? We forge an economic union and unify the whole approach to that, so then people who come in to do offshore banking would not have just come to St. Vincent, they come to the OECS. There is a oneness, there is one legislation, there is one approach. So the international monitors are not dealing with St. Vincent, or Dominica, but you are dealing with the OECS, it is a wider spread. It will also give you, Mr. Speaker, a wider pick in terms of choosing your negotiators, whereas one island may not have the skill within a civil service or the public sector to negotiate internationally, I know we have the regional negotiating machinery within the CARICOM region, you may not find that people are skilled across each island and when the regional negotiating machinery was established you will find people like Mr. Antoine who hails from Jamaica or so who hails from Guyana and these people are called upon to go out to lead the region in negotiating with the European Union or with other international agencies. So we unify the OECS, one economic space and right away creating a cadre of individuals within the sub-region who are skilled, who can go to negotiate for you right across the region.Mr. Speaker, many of the international agencies across the world have already unified, us, you know, people referred to the region as Latin America and the Caribbean. I have gone to some conferences in Latin America where they put us together, Latin America and the Caribbean, and you go to these conferences and from Nicaragua you have a delegation of 20 people and from St. Vincent you only have two, or one or none, you go down to Chile and you go to this conference and the people from Chile sit in a delegation of 50 and they talk in Spanish among themselves and they are translating and you from the English speaking Caribbean territories you wonder whether they pulling a fast one on you. So they are putting us together, they are grouping us together, already we are grouped together as we fight these international battles, so that is the way to go, forge these linkages, these bonds, these unions and negotiate as a region. So we are talking and we have always been talking and we have not moved off with it, we have not widened the base and I think Mr. Speaker, the time has come for us to widen the base and make these things available for our thrust of these regions.Mr. Speaker, you have also an advantage in terms of your maritime boundaries, you have extended in your maritime boundaries, whereas St. Vincent is limited to particular distance or St. Kitts to a particular distance when you combine all these distances on these boundaries you will see how far the OECS as a body can spread in maritime boundary. Now this holds benefits for people who want to ply trade in our waters, you will find it in National Organisations of some countries who wants to come to trawl in your waters, they can’t just come into the OECS and drag their trawler, they have to pay you some license, some money to do that and then there is money to be had. The same holds through for your air space, you have one air space and there are licenses to be had for people who are overflying you and all those kinds of things. So the way to go, Mr. Speaker, in a globalised environment is to form these bonds, these linkages and I think that this is a good thing we are doing to forge an OECS economic union and I am hoping, Mr. Speaker, that 25 years from now, we would not be saying the same thing, but that we would have moved on to something significant as we put into operation what is indeed going to be a good thing for the region. Is either we unite and fight the WTO with their stringent policies to combat the IMF on their stringent policies or we go individually and suffer, we have to speak with43one voice, whether we are speaking at the United Nations, we are speaking for trade and the WTO arrangement or the IMF, we speak as one. It may have some implications for sovereignty, Mr. Speaker, but in a world like this, oftentimes you have to give something to get something and I think that is the way to go.Mr. Speaker, it also holds well for Government Revenue because what it is going to do, it is going to widen tax base because each of the small islands operate in their own governmental system, has to find the revenue to run the country and the taxes that has to be levied, our small country are limited and when the country is small, the taxes would be high. But widen the base, bring in a wider population, immediately reduce the tax base on individual and you create revenue for the unit country to operate. So, Mr. Speaker, I am fond of the view that this is the way to go and I want to give this approach my whole-hearted support as we take it forward and for those countries who are worrying that they might be swamped because they may find people will move from country to country, this might be a good idea to unify remuneration because naturally if you pay a teacher $2 in St. Kitts in the union, you have to pay the teacher the same $2 in St. Vincent because if you do not do that you may find people want to shift from one country to the next. So it holds good for those who are at the bottom of the scale in terms of remuneration, that there has to be a oneness across the scale because this is now a union.Mr. Speaker, I want to wish this proposal a safe passage to this House and I know that so be because we have the support from both sides and I trust that it is the way to go, we will do it and make this region a better region, a region that knows how to make its way through the globalised environment through hard financial times and take this thing forward. Let us do it, Mr. Speaker, and I wish this motion safe passage through this Honourable House. Thank you.HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I rise to give my support to this motion that is before the House on the OECS Economic Union Treaty. I listened very carefully to the contributions of my Honourable colleagues and there are two things that stand out, we are all in this Honourable House appear to be in favour of this motion, but it is sad to say that we do not seem to get on the ground floor the masses of the people throughout the OECS being on the same page with the Leaders on the top floor and just at random you go down in the lunch hour, if you ask them, ‘what’s the motion we were discussing about up here?’ They have not got a clue, they really do not know and it shows a weakness that we have to try to overcome because we are now in what I like to call a new geopolitics space. The last 20 years since the Treaty of Basseterre, the European Union has become a tremendous force, it is no longer something debated in the UK Parliament and it is continuing up to now or is something we look on television and we see when it comes to the international news, a demonstration here and there in Greece or Italy or in Spain. It is a reality today but we in the smaller Caribbean, Mr. Speaker, despite the fact that we have had the games in the Eastern Caribbean of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court has been tested and tried, our Chief Justice sits at the highest level of our Court of last resort, Her Majesties Privy Council, each of them in turn have sat there and they have dispensed justice, High Court, Court of Appeal, right up, those of us who in the 1970’s went to the faculty of law and the Hugh Wooding in Law School. Our certificates says we have the competence to practice in any of the courts and we are called in the Eastern Caribbean, you know we still have to be called in each island.We were brave enough, our forebears were brave enough to take that step to go towards the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, yet I get the distinct impression nine years reading these volumes of paper that comes on the44fax machine or on e-mail that is more sometimes an exercise in telling the Politicians what they do not understand rather than selling to the region and the people of the region why is it important for us in this 21st century, in this first decade, that we have to get the show on the road. What are we waiting for? For decisions from Privy Council? Perhaps is our history, we have not truly yet been taught how to be independent, we are still waiting on that phone call from the former government office. Historically been divided so you rule and you know how much it has stuck with us, Mr. Speaker? Let us start with the people, thank God we now have these passports, we now have this community passport and we have the little card that we can travel to the OECS but they will still ask questions which when I arrive in the UK nobody is asking me those questions. The card that I fill out when I arrive in United Kingdom is half of this page, so that size but when you arrive anywhere in the Caribbean, you see a long sheet of paper. We have to get over that peculiar stumbling block of, ‘we are waiting for somebody else to endorse what we are doing and not really wanting to go’. It is always this hesitancy, yes St. Vincent is going to Parliament in May and will be ready for initialing in June and everybody else has something else to do, we are not ready yet, keep putting it off. But the rest of the world which we should notice is not waiting on us and I want us to really get a strong promotion and marketing at the level of the masses. You have to speak in language and reduce this Treaty in language that the masses will feel comfortable and ready to roll with so they know what it is.Of course they all know what was said in the tents over the weekend. They all understand that. But if you ask them, “what is the purpose of this organisation?” They say, “Well I have to take it off the net”, but if you go on the net you will see what they are looking at. They are not going to read this, but this is not to them in a format for them to consume so we still have a weakness, we will pass here today because we are ad idem, we are at one, we understand up here as representatives of the people what it means but we have to make sure you get the people with us been swept up in the spirit of OECS unity and in the spirit of being one. We gonna have to do it and I want to plead with the Honourable Members of this House, we all live here, there is no separate island for the ULP and another island for the NDP, we live here and if we paid attention in the first 48 hours after the elections in the United Kingdom and they were holding talks about how they will work with this coalition Government. You see the grounds that they listed out there, pay attention. They are not worried about your agenda; they have their own agenda, so we have got to learn in the Caribbean and the Eastern Caribbean, this is what independence really means. We have to work together to keep this OECS together, we have so far succeeded well with the Supreme Court, we succeeded with the currency and anytime I go outside of the region I always show them and they say, way you from? And you say St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where is that? I gave them the money and tell them look at it and you will see all those islands, we use the same currency. We have this one currency unit.Now this is 2010, this OECS organisation that we are remoulding for the 21st century, it has to be well grounded so that we will be able to take this new structure forward. I see in Mr. Speaker, the purposes and functions of the organisation:- To promote cooperation among member states and at the regional international levels having due regard to the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and the charter of the United Nations.45You know what is sad? We need to all get on the same page. Here you had a briefing document for the Security Council non-permanent seat, as a regionalist you were being asked to be counted at the first ball and at the first ball, ‘not quite yet, not sure about that’, well this thing goes in a cycle so the cycle go on. There are not going to wait until we get around to figuring out it’s a big hat for St. Vincent to wear and if I want another hat to wear and how we can mould this. We are not paying attention, look at the geo-politics of the region. We cannot ask the world to stop so we can jump off, Brazil is a giant in the south, Venezuela with its massive resources, you all do not think they really need us, you think so? Not really, we are the ones who need each other, we have managed well over the years with the organisation for the Civil Aviation but we now need to move towards the maritime transport and the maritime commission, the issues we have to deal with as we are an archipelagic state and dealing with our boundaries and territories. Grenada won agreement with Trinidad, this won another agreement, we need to try to put on this vision that Sir Arthur Lewis and Eric Williams had for the Caribbean. We need to move forward and stop reading the books and impress everybody we have read the books. But do the action, get on board, maintain unity and solidarity among members and the defense of your sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.Well we do not have much of a navy, we are working with the RSS and these are things that will make us, maybe in the next five years understand the purpose of this new remoulding of the OECS. Assist the member state in the realization of the obligations and responsibility to the international community with due regard to role of the international laws as standards of conduct in the relationship. I also like to say that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in forefront in the leadership in this regard.We have a Leader in this Honourable House, Mr. Speaker, that has not only written on integration and the role of integration and the purpose of integration and the solidarity that integration brings but has walked the walk, sometimes alone. How many Leaders in the region have spoken about reparation? This thing that we all sat down 20 years ago, 25 years ago and thought about, now the ball is in our court are we willing to pay to seek to achieve the fullest possible harmonisation of foreign policy among member states and to adopt wherever possible common position on international issues and to establish and maintain wherever possible arrangements to joint oversees representation and common services. We have achieved that to a certain extent with the OECS joint mission, the high commission in Ottawa and the offices in Brussels but sometimes you get the distinct impression the debts is not there. The formality is there, the art is there, but the substance is not there. So we need to put some flesh on the bones that are already out there. In Article 4 it also says:To be an institutional forum to discuss and facilitate constitutional, political and economic changes necessary for the successful development of Member States and their successful participation in the regional and global economies.My other colleagues have dealt with, I think sufficiently, during the debate in this Honourable House in relation to the global economic space that we occupy and what we can do, how in years gone by it was carved out, who will do what, but that has changed as everybody decided that [inaudible] and so on.Now we have to learn to put that aside and work together as one to forge economic policies, not just for St. Vincent and the Grenadines but with an eye towards how good is it for Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, St.46Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts, altogether. I know the difficulty, Mr. Speaker, having served as Minister of Tourism, I heard the Honourable Leader of the Opposition speak about trying to get on common head tax and I know what it is like in working towards getting a reduced tax and so on, intense competition. That is an attitude that was taught. It is now our responsibility in this Parliament at the opening hours of the 21st century to undo the lessons of the past of division and create an atmosphere that makes it possible for fertile soil and for seeds, grow the seeds of unity. I just came from Pinar del Rio in Cuba, St. Vincent could sit in the province of Pinar del Rio comfortably and that is the constituency of the Minister of Culture in Cuba. St. Vincent and St. Lucia could sit in there comfortably, but when I listen, the occasions that I have to listen to the radio and hear discussions on various subjects of import, you think that St. Vincent had to be about the size of Venezuela, 100,000 people, you look at the size of a stadium where they do the super bowl in the United States and all the population can sit in there with space to spare. We have to learn that these little islands are not big nations and what this Treaty, this new arrangement is going to do or is aiming to do, is purporting to do is that we have to take off the edge of this sovereignty. We have to lose that piece of edge of sovereignty and make, instead of so many little pieces, a good little half a million population hold.Mr. Speaker, it also speaks to the question of the institutions which I dealt with earlier, Article 6 and this Article 6: the Supreme Court, the Central Bank and the Aviation Authority; then the organs which we know already: the Authority of the Heads; Council of Ministers; the OECS Assembly, which is a new organ for the deliberation on joint legislation; legislation that is supposed to be of benefit to all the islands because it has similar features and is aimed towards similar objectives and as you would have heard their intention is that it would sit like the Court of Appeal, the Assembly will sit in different islands from time to time and provision is made for the Assembly to also reflect the National Assemblies throughout the OECS.It says in Article 10:-The OECS shall comprise Members who are representatives, as provided for in this Article, who are members of the Parliament and Members of the Legislature of the Member States.Each Parliament of an independent State is a full Member shall be entitled to elect five of the members to the Assembly. Each Legislature of the other Member State shall be entitled to elect three of its members to the Assembly.And:- The members of Parliament shall comprise government members chosen by the government members and the opposition members chosen by the opposition members.And this is such a relief where you do not have to go and pass a resolution, you see the opposition is provided for in this Treaty, because we want to mirror. I believe it is the intent to mirror as far as possible what the home Assemblies look like and to have it in the OECS Assembly so that the other side of the coin would have the opportunity to be heard at the same time in one Assembly, so that we can come to these decisions that are required to be made and do it in proportion as it would be in the National Assembly and the Speaker being someone who could be just an eligible citizen, a citizen or belonger of a member state who is not disqualified47from election to parliament or the Legislature, as the case may be, in that member state and who is not a member of the Parliament or Legislature of any of the member states and they will have the function of overlooking legislation that is put to them.Of great importance is the commission and the role of the commission and the power and authority of the OECS commission. This is a new construct in the Treaty, a welcome one because we will need to really get the work of representation and having persons dedicated to this only as have been in the government for nine years, it has really come home that you cannot do all of the work that is required in your individual ministries that will touch on concerned issues that arise in the region, the OECS or CARICOM and that is the reason that there is this unit under the office of the Prime Minister to deal with these issues, and there are quite a lot of reading, you have more readers to bring summary documents to the Cabinet for approval. So you will have this commission that will have this work to do, but as has been said in the resolution, has been recited in the resolution, that I think it is six paragraphs of the recitals:Whereas the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines intends to seek further amendments to the draft Treaty particularly in the coordination of foreign policy including the process of appointing ambassadors and High commissioners.Mr. Speaker, our constitution gives that authority to the Governor General, that is the Cabinet to advise and you may have a person who is a public server of that who will like to have this position discussed in your cabinet and it goes through that formality because it is a provision in the constitution. Now all of our constitutions do not all have the same provision so that is why this issue for us is very important because we cannot offend our constitution or do anything that is repugnant to the constitution in that regard, and we have to obey the dictates of the constitution in this regard because you can very well have, as we know in all human endeavour, obstructionist and then the whole thing just falls apart and one from ten leaves naught. You get a series of persons who decide they gonna put paid to a certain person who did not gave them a mark when they were in their Economics class. Its human nature, that frailty underneath the polish of the MA’s and so on, it is always there underneath the PhD’s. The vanity and frailty of human nature comes out at the most inappropriate times and make nations suffer for the sake of vanity.So we have to do it the right way to ensure that the process of decision-making, you remove the personal traits and issues from the decision-making process and put it as far as possible into the objective column for analysis and functionality. But holding the meetings and having the organs and follow-ups on decisions because this is one of the things that I found as someone who was not in the government service and come into the government service and having to read all these saving grams etcetera. That you seem to be reading the same saving grams year after year after year, recognising that hoping that,....and it is the same thing you read last year, no decision, the vacillation, because somebody somewhere did not quite get it. So having this commission will help to do the summaries and iron out the knots here and there to ensure that everybody is on the same page and we get the work done. These decisions need to be taken quickly, our court acts as quickly as possible, when I was at the Bar there used to be one judge, then there were two, now there are three judges, and we need to be able to take decision quickly because the world, I am sure that you would have noticed something. The earth is spinning a little faster, and when at midnight you turn on BBC and you looking at Impact Asia, the day is gone already and48we are now about to cope with the issue of the day that has already gone so we need to get those issues ironed out.Finally, Mr. Speaker, I hope that by having this new framework in place taking the necessary parliamentary actions and parliamentary approvals that all these issues that are listed in the Treaty: undertaking that for implementation, institutions of the organisation, organs of the organisation, these would function, they are functioning to a certain level but I cannot feel the passion and the beat coming through to me. That is why I am hoping that this will be breathing new life into this organisation. The compositions and functions of the OECS authority, council of ministers, which meets regularly and try to push and get more things done. The OECS Assembly will deepen our democracy in the Caribbean. One of the issues that I like about our space is the way that we have embraced democracy and have refined it to such a great extent that we know we have confidence in our democratic institutions and that they work by and large throughout the Eastern Caribbean and this would help us to even deepen the democracy further. The commission as I said before and the Legislative competence of that commission and the harmonisation of foreign policy, we have some things in foreign policy that we still need to get right but as I say we have to get rid of the historical past in some of those areas. The new procedures for settlements and disputes, I am hoping that we can get a number of younger persons getting involved in arbitration and qualifying themselves in arbitration and alternative dispute resolution so that we can have a good cadre of qualified and suitable persons to help to work on these issues pertaining to international law and international organisations and how they will function in this OECS construct.Mr. Speaker, I am confident that this motion will pass this Honourable House this evening and I also want to get that confidence that the people on the street, man on the street, the masses would embrace this new construct for the OECS Economic Union. We have work to do and we have to get down to the work as Leaders in this Honourable House. Mr. Speaker, we need to ensure that our people understand it, it is our duty, it is our responsibility and maybe instead of allowing other people to carry the ball that we among ourselves in this Honourable House form a cadre to go out there on the campaign road on this new construct. I am much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Senator Leacock.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIRE LEACOCK: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I recognise that a number of us are struggling at this time of the evening, understandably so on both sides of the House, Mr. Speaker, [inaudible]. So I will try to make my comments to be of no more than, five minutes you say, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, like others before me I recognise in a sense the historical occasion that we are in and that this in fact is a subject matter of the moment and I think that is why most members of the House are desirous of being on record on this occasion. I cannot help but observe, Mr. Speaker, that even you have put aside the House rules today because you have been satisfied that there will be no need to make judgement on our discourse and I will not carry it too far, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, I am going to do this presentation by reading a bit and I crave your indulgence in that regard, Mr. Speaker. I want first of all, Mr. Speaker, to draw on a body of research conducted by the World Bank because,49Mr. Speaker, both the Honourable Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition succeeded in setting a good tone for today’s discussion, the Prime Minister himself went back to his core strength and he spoke in some detail with respect to the historical and in some sense political antecedents that have taken us to this point and we found that the Leader of the Opposition went back to his own substantive public service record as well as a regional public servant to give a rich history of the last 30 years or so of this adjourn. Is it that much? I hope my maths is correct...more than that. But Mr. Speaker, as other colleagues on both sides of the House have joined the debate it is still important even though there has been a reality check and some members have spoken about the problems of size when we are travelling, which I am sure we have all experience on time or the other, that we do not forget the...either the reality of what we are discussing or the urgency because for the moment we are on a unity train that we are of one mind.Mr. Speaker, let me quote how the World Bank sees this unification imperative of the OECS and why therefore there is this sense of urgency that we must all address our minds. First of all it speaks about the fact that as a small union we have made considerable success over the years but it goes on to say that:-“Despite this generally positive picture the OECS is now at an economic crossroad“ The region that we are speaking about“is experiencing a secular slowdown in growth and facing radical changes in its external environment. The growth has slowed from 5.9% in the 1980’s to 1.4% during 2000 to 2003 and throughout the 1980’s and earlier 1990’s whereas the countries benefited from buoyant Prices and preferential access for traditional and agricultural exports a growth in demand for tourism and sizable freeze in foreign aid we are in fact now in different times.”I do not know, Mr. Speaker, if the European Commission looked at the notes of the World Bank but in their own report, a European Union Caribbean partnership for growth, stability and development their words would not be similar. They concluded that the Caribbean is a region at a crossroad. The word “crossroad” reappearing, I do not think any of us would deny that but they went on to say something, Mr. Speaker, that I may come back to address because mention was given of it by the Honourable Prime Minister and others.“Bold leadership initiatives are required if the region is to face the political economic and security challenges.”Maybe in a sense to say, Mr. Speaker, as we all say so often that the good Lord helps those who help themselves. It perhaps is not sufficient for us simply to come to our respective parliaments, bring the legislation to fruition and rest on our laurels without recognising that at all levels there is a leadership requirement.Mr. Speaker, the World Bank report goes on to say that the report that they have conducted here tries to build on the extensive body of earlier and even some on-going work in two ways:-501. Presenting a comprehensive review of how to improve competitiveness and accelerate growth in the OECS and2. Proposing an overarching strategic framework for growth and competitiveness that could serve to guide the various efforts by the private sector, national and regional authorities as well as Civil Society.In other words, Mr. Speaker, this is not legislation or enhanced legislation for legislation sake, it comes out of a reality that we have to use in the local language, “get up and get”, that is, these are tough times, challenging times and we have to do what we can to improve the lot of our people.Mr. Speaker, the report further states that:“While in the 1990’s where the region continues to take advantage of preferential trading regimes and that growth in the 1980’s was also in part supported by large public investments financed primarily by age flows.”It says that: “The OECS government’s effort in the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s to offset exogenous shocks and the contraction in private investment through increased public investment have not translated into a revival of growth. Rather because these investments have been financed by expensive commercial borrowing the result has been a significant build up of debt in the OECS countries to levels that test the limits of sustainability.”And thirdly:“Past growth does not appear to have been driven by a strategic agenda for competitiveness rather it has been driven by special and preferential treatment on export trade and the sectoral reallocation of resources from agriculture to tourism led by ... of foreign direct investment.”I understand this, Mr. Speaker, to be a sober reminder for us, both sides of the House that beyond the legislative work there is a very serious challenge for us in our respective parliaments. You know, Mr. Speaker, we can ask ourselves a question, if it aint broken, why fix it? And to the extent therefore that we feel that there is need for improvements; I think there is also an admission that we could do better than we are doing. You know as politicians, Mr. Speaker, we are sometimes so hard on ourselves in the cut and trust of politics that we do not take enough time to give ourselves a little bit more credit. We as politicians, Mr. Speaker, do not have the benefit of so many in our society who manage, but manage against a background of great certainty, the challenge that many of us as politicians have to deal with on a daily basis, is that we traverse a vineyard of great uncertainty and very often our evenings are different to our mornings as a day in which we are participating was from the day before tremendous uncertainty and sometimes people who are managing regional institutions do have a challenge on their hand as to how far they can project their own strategic plans.Mr. Speaker, let me return to the report, it says:51“The services sector has been a major impetus for overall growth in the OECS during the last two decades. Accounting for 3⁄4 of the growth in value added during the 1980’s to 2003.”And it goes on to say that:“Although the industrial sector has been growing at faster rates than services, this growth is concentrated in non-tradable [inaudible] such as utilities and construction that is likely to have been driven by expansion in the tourism and public investments.”In short, Mr. Speaker, the study has been pointing us to the need to address the dynamics of our sub-region. It goes on, Mr. Speaker, to say that:“The impact the growing fiscal deficits and debt has led to a further crowding out of our private investment.”I do accept the admonition that the Honourable Member for South Leeward speaks at time that there is a need for private sector to do more than they are doing, in as much that we are supportive of them and we do certainly hope that this comes about but Mr. Speaker, the World Bank report continues to highlight for us that:“The current challenge that faces the sub-region is how to reinvigorate growth in order to address the following imperatives:   Reducing high unemployment and the poverty rates   Restoring fiscal and debt sustainability and   securing the position for the sub-region in a more competitive global environment.” Of such we are told, Mr. Speaker, “Reducing poverty will require an expansion of job generating growth as well as continuous efforts to increase human capital so that the poor can take advantage of these opportunities.” And it reminds us, Mr. Speaker, that as a sub-region we have targeted 6% unemployment as our medium term goal, very important reading, Mr. Speaker, because in our own poverty report there is an indication that in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that we are at about 18.8% unemployment. But that unemployment among the poor is higher as a percentage of about 22.6% or thereabout I think it is. And here we are not interested now, Mr. Speaker, in scoring political points because it is work to be done. If we came into office as we expect we will have the same challenges as the government have today and therefore we have to approach these legislative discussions with the reality of what we are really into, what we are up against. Mr. Speaker, it says that: 52“A closer analysis of fiscal accounts presented in the recent World Bank analysis of fiscal issues for most of the OECS countries suggest; that the adjustments should be focussed on the expenditure side.”Mr. Speaker, the report warns us, and this is important. Mr. Speaker, there is a time when the Parliament is a serious business; I have a way that I address it sometimes but out of respect to you I will not indicate that. It reminds us, Mr. Speaker, that there is a great chance of us as a region slipping away from the gains of being middle income society back into poverty at a level which we do not want to see and poverty is not nice; we do not want to see it around us, Mr. Speaker.And so it says:“The region now faces several risks towards external sustainability including the possibility of rise in interest charges and external debt, reduced access to external finance or capital inflows and that the region needs to rapidly find and develop new sources of competitiveness or it will be at the risk of being left behind the outside of the world economy on which it depends so heavily.”Mr. Speaker, I have taken the unusual approach to go to the hard data, for the purpose not just of supporting today’s exercise, Mr. Speaker, but for emphasis and to repeat the urgency of this exercise. It is not just debating for debating sake, Mr. Speaker, it affects lives, bread and butter, putting food on the table and it is a sober reminder for us as politicians on both sides of the House that we have a lot of work to do.Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Prime Minister in making a comparison between the progress we have made, the OECS and the CARICOM for which he obviously has great disappointment. He stated that CARICOM appears to be a loveless marriage and ours was one in which there was considerable joy. The first people to remind us of the famous saying of Sparrow, the Mighty Sparrow would be our own people, Mr. Speaker. You cannot make love on hungry belly and that is the challenge for us to grow, Mr. Speaker, our economies and it is not simplistic to argue that if we move from a market size of our 100,000 for one island to just over 500,000 for seven islands that we will live happily ever after, it is not going to work that way, that is not the mathematics that would take us out of the dilemma, Mr. Speaker. Because at half million people, Mr. Speaker, we are still a drop in the bucket. I mean I hear colleagues speak about their experiences, when I went to football federation international events, they have a way they put the big maps on there and they show where every country is from and it is just the little piece of red thing that you see that come to the screen, you say that is St. Vincent and the Grenadines and sometimes you wish you could dive under the table, but you have to face the reality, it is what it is. We can apply it to the OECS and to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it is not the size of the country, it is the people that make the difference. And I believe whether we are 100,000 or half million, if we put our collective minds together we can make a difference. And this is why, Mr. Speaker, we have to take this exercise as serious as we are in fact approaching it today.Mr. Speaker, the European Commission has very similar concerns for our ability to survive in this increasing rules driven world and they too like the World Bank have set out a number of prescriptions for us. In fact much53of them resonate with what our own Central Bank Governor and our own secretariat has advised us. So we know the medicine and it is for us to take the preventative actions to force others from forcing it down our throats.And so Mr. Speaker, one therefore has to see the exercise and the support for this union as one in which collectively we are pursuing and with urgency the greater ideal of a responsibility to a deserving people, the Caribbean people, and it matters therefore little, Mr. Speaker, any amount of chest beating or name calling as who does it, but sufficient that the people of our regions and of our countries are better off for the contributions that we as Parliamentarians have the temporary privilege to contribute. That said, Mr. Speaker, I lend my wholehearted support to this noble exercise and ask the Honourable Prime Minister, because I think he said that there is a session tomorrow, a teleconference session that he certainly hopes that the urgency that we are attaching to the exercise here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is matched by their own efforts. The people cannot afford to wait much longer. Much Obliged, Mr. Speaker.[Inaudible] to remind you that the absence of Honourable Terrance Ollivierre today is unavoidable, he would have very much liked to be here but circumstances in the Grenadines dictated otherwise. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.DR THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to thank all Honourable Members who spoke, I think in each particular place I could have bid the speech that each made saving one, regarding which the Honourable Senator Cummings asked me to give some clarification on. I perhaps did not speak as clearly as I ought to have spoken on the issue covered in Article 15 of the Treaty regarding joint, the coordination and harmonisation of foreign policy. The government supports it, the question of joint diplomatic representation and we indeed have not only continued the joint representation in Ottawa but also in Brussels. Not every member of the OECS is part of the OECS mission in Brussels, for instance Grenada has a separate mission in Brussels and not all of the other countries are in the OECS mission in Brussels and the same thing in respect of the mission in Ottawa. We have our own consular service in Toronto which is distinct from the OECS mission in Ottawa. So there is no problem about the joint representation in foreign policy, indeed we have been in the vanguard to have a mission, a specific trade mission in Geneva and there is one there now which is accredited to the World Trade Organisation because that is part of where the new action is.The point I was making concerns the appointment of the person who represents the OECS so in Brussels St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts Nevis, they are the four countries that are part of the OECS mission. But juridically and as a matter of constitutional law each of those four countries has to provide instruments of appointment because though they are the one ambassador there, he is the ambassador to those four OECS countries and the receiving state Belgium agrees to accept a mission of four countries as the OECS mission, because the OECS is not a state, each country has to provide an appointed instrument for the one person whom we have agreed upon when that person is presenting her credentials to the Monarch in Belgium. That is the point I was making. So it has to do with the issue of the formulation in the Treaty as is regarding the appointment. So I believe that I have made it clearer now than I did in my original presentation and that is the clarification.54The other issue that the Honourable Senator Cummings had raised is [an] important one about not just cost, but for the people of the OECS to feel the presence of the OECS in all the islands and therefore, in relation to the OECS Assembly that it ought not to be a building built somewhere and we are not going to have a building built somewhere. This Parliament on an occasion when it is the turn of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to have the Assembly will be the location for the OECS Parliament and the broadcast would take place from here to the rest of the OECS so that we can cut the costs of the administration of this new entity.May I just return, Mr. Speaker, momentarily to the issue of the joint representation? Now, because the OECS as an organisation is not a state, it is important for the reportage by the Ambassador in Brussels or in Ottawa or in Geneva to be not only to the Director General, but the reportage also must be made to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in each of the respective countries. [Interjection] yes Mr. Speaker.Now, I want to address in addition to the issues which I suggested for possible amendment, one is a clear one in relation to the constitutional issue. The second is for realisation that we need to do some more work on a technical aspect of the Economic Union on duties which I had pointed out in my original presentation. I think there is a slight amendment which we ought to have also in Article 12.5 I think I would ask my colleague heads to give consideration for an additional item which reads, “The OECS Commission shall oversee the preparation by the OECS Secretariat of the Draft Agenda for meetings of the OECS Authority and submit the Draft Agenda to the OCES Authority for its approval.” That is to say that the OECS Secretariat must not just deal with the Chairman of the Authority for the time being and send it out to the various heads, but to have the OECS Commission oversee the preparation by the Secretariat.The reason for this, one of the problems..., and we have to learn from our own experiences, one of the problems with the CARICOM Agenda and also to some extent to the OECS Agenda they become clogged up with matters which are means of the bureaucracies rather than ends and purposes of the organisation. And you know those of us who have studied organisational theory and behaviour is that organisations themselves if they are not provided with the requisite oversights can in fact focus their agenda on matters internal to them and become obsessed with that rather with than the efficacy of the organisation and for the goals for which the organisation was set up in the first place. So I think it is important that we have the OECS Commission, because remember this, the OECS Commission would have a person, one from each country who is resident in the country and who is interfacing with the authority and helping to massage the making of decisions and to facilitate the quick implementation of these decisions and also to take initiatives.In St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador John heads RIDU (the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit) and it is expected that whoever heads that organisation would be the Commissioner. We have been in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the vanguard of establishing a unit in St. Vincent under the office of the Prime Minister for the purposes of facilitating implementation and also to assist in taking initiatives. Because one of the things that I observed in the workings of both CARICOM and the OECS the fault was not only in the organisations themselves, the OECS and CARICOM, but in our own processes locally. I addressed in my original presentation the question of the need for a commission both in CARICOM and the OECS to ensure that decisions are made and implement it properly, but picture this, colleagues let us take CARICOM, but the same thing applies to the OECS but in a microcosm. CARICOM has a Ministerial Council called “the community on55foreign relations council, this body is attended to by the foreign ministers, but there is also an entity called COHSOD, (the council for Health and social Development) it carries education in it, it carries health in it, social development, so on one agenda you may have something for health, something for education, something for social development but you are not going to send three Ministers, you will send the Minister when you look at the agenda and you will send a Permanent Secretary and another technical person but hello, as the brothers and sisters in the Spiritual Baptist tend to draw our attention when they want to bring you to something, hello, there are three Ministries now affected by the decisions, but the Permanent Secretary may be the Permanent Secretary from Health, but that Permanent Secretary does not pay as close attention to the social development issues and the education issues and from that meeting they get left behind in terms of the implementation. But because you have a focal point that is to say, the RIDU and in the case of the OECS that person now is not only a by- stander or a receptacle for gathering the information and to helping to coordinate, that person has a structure and he is part of the arrangements themselves for the OECS. And that is why the observation by the Leader of the Opposition was quite correct about the thrust towards better implementation machinery, but that has to be supported locally which is what we have done. In fact, RIDU has been imitated in the other countries of the region. We are the first to set up one. They may call it by a different name, but essentially that is the same function.Mr. Speaker, I want to address something which is of great interest to the people of this country. Article 12 of the protocol because let us again be reminded there is a Treaty and there is the protocol on the Economic Union which is attached to the Treaty. This makes it fairly easy because it means that Anguilla and the BVI can agree to bulk of what you have in the Treaty itself they would not participate in the Economic Union Protocol. For instance, the issue of freedom of movement, they would not countenance that because they are very high wage economies, small population, small land area and they do not want the intrusion of large numbers of people, they want to control that migration, they want you to come and help them build, but when you are finish you go home. That is the way in which Antigua and the British Virgin Islands do it. Anguilla sorry, not Antigua, I am sorry, Anguilla.If one notices the formulation here, it is a far more expansive formulation than the formulation in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in CARICOM, because in CARICOM it says, they declare as the goal freedom of movement and that in working towards the goal you have these categories skilled national, CARICOM nationals who are skilled, people in music and entertainment and so on and so forth and they widen the categories bit by bit. This says freedom of movement of workers shall be secured within the Economic Union area and then it goes on to say such freedom of movement shall entail the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality between workers of the protocol Member States as regards employment remuneration and other conditions of work and employment.In that formulation you take care of the contingent rights, because one of the problems, you may give me in CARICOM as a CARICOM skilled national the right to enter Barbados to work or Trinidad or Jamaica, but you say that my spouse might be a hairdresser or a farmer, but they are not skilled category for the purposes of the Revised Treaty of Chaguamaras, so I can work, but my wife cannot work and then what about my children? Our children, they have to go to school, they have to attend the hospitals when they are sick and so on and so forth. What are these contingent rights? They do not exist. In fact there is one country in CARICOM who56provides a curious interpretation to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, says that the contingent rights are not guaranteed in the Treaty and they are prepared to test that. Now to me it is an absurdity.But we must remember that these provisions for the freedom of movement come in the wake of a law which we passed here in our first term..., in the first term of the ULP Administration in amending the Immigration Act to provide for six months for an OECS national and you can come in with your identification card, so long as it got your picture ID and that you just have your return ticket and we have subsequently expanded that to include CARICOM nationals. I want to say just parenthetically an issue which we have noted with two countries in the wider CARICOM that the women are coming here four months pregnant and they get the six months and they have their child here and then they feel that you are not going to be ‘heartless’ to ask them to leave because their child is a Vincentian by birth.Of course, we do not intend to change the law in relation to once you are born here you are a Vincentian, but the Barbados Government has put out a white paper to say that you will get the citizenship, the child born in Barbados would be a citizen of Barbados if one of the parents is Barbadian or if you the resident requirements as a non-Barbadian. So if persons are there who are so ‘undocumented’, a St. Lucian and a Vincentian have a child in Barbados that child according to the law which they intend to propose, which they have proposed actually had to take the citizenship of either the Vincentian or the St. Lucian parent even though they are born in Barbados. This is a..., it is a formulation I think which happens in some countries. The United Kingdom is now doing it and in the US also.But there is one..., what we have had in our own legislation here in St. Vincent, when we brought the law first of all on OECS to give the six months, if we know that you are an economic citizen of a member country of the OECS and the St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica have economic citizenship programmes and Grenada had one, if you are an economic citizen you will not be given that six months, you will be dealt with on a case by case basis and not an automatic six months. Because the passports from Dominican and St. Kitts and Nevis for economic citizenship, they are no different than a passport for somebody who has born in St. Kitts Nevis, or Dominica and or acquire their citizenship in one of the usual ways other than just paying for it.Mr. Speaker, I want to touch on an issue which more than one Honourable Member addressed, the role of the private sector. There are some private sector entities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I dare say in other Caribbean countries and right in the other OECS countries are so mollycoddled by the protectionism of an earlier period that they do not even want to be subjected to the competition by a producer from one of the other countries. And clearly such enterprises what happens, in fact, in one case I told a particular owner, I said you know you can actually be closed down, you can actually close down and the money which you will make on the 4% custom service charge would be far more than what you are paying for the worker’s salaries and we can actually pay the workers to stay home and that the people who are bringing in the commodities from outside the mass of the consumers would get it far cheaper, because there are some people who want you to put up a wall of protection and let the consumers subsidise inefficiencies. That I think is one of the issues which was raised in a more theoretical sense by the reports read from the European Union and the World Bank by the Honourable Senator Leacock.57And that is why I have made the case very strongly that for us to build in this period an economy; we have to build a modern, many-sided, competitive, post-colonial economy which is at once local, national, regional and global and post-colonial because the protectionisms which were offered to your primary products were essentially a set of colonial relationships and that is where the post-colonial factor comes in. It does not have anything to do with anti-colonialism because it is just post-colonialism. A very important distinction and the thesis we have represented as to the thrust of where we should go is reflective in those reports though I must say as always, when those reports want to drive a point, they tend to drive it in an extreme way without making a lot of balances about some tremendous advances which have been made nevertheless.I am hopeful that we are going to..., these new institutions which we are creating will help to make our sub- region more competitive and I want to ask Honourable Members and particularly Honourable Senator Leacock who has raised the discussion in that wider sense to reflect on this. In fact I was speaking to Prime Minister Golding about this about four weeks ago, I was saying to him in the case of Jamaica for 30 years from 1980 to the present time Jamaica has had either stagnation in growth or marginal growth of half of 1% or a decline, but overall, you can say they had zero growth for 30 years. Despite the fact that in those 30 years they also had the protectionism of sugar and of bananas and that the world economy in large trunks of those years was doing quite well and they should have had a knock on effect. So I had to raise the issue with him that clearly part of Jamaica’s challenging and extreme sense and we have to look at that here too, is that there are certain institutional and cultural practices which retard economic growth and it is not just simply the traditional issues of the availability of capital or as one writer said, not just the lack of availability of what you may call the hard drive but the software, not just an absence of the hardware, but very much so of the software and in that software, institutions and cultural practices and knowledge they are essential in driving any area of the economy to make it competitive. And that is why we have tried to set about the Education Revolution which has strengths and which has limitations, because it is in part 2 a work in progress because you have to move from such a low base and you have to move rapidly in an area of advancing technological awareness and technical know-how. So I put on the table not for a Resolution today, but in the context of the discussion which we are having that we have to address the issue of the efficacy of the institutions that we have and to put it in an appropriate modern type language of the information communication technology world, the bundle of things which we may properly call the software.Mr. Speaker, I am so proud of this Parliament today. I am overjoyed, it is one of the most beautiful days that I have spent in the Parliament of this country since I came here in 1994 in February and I have made the point several times before which the Honourable Senator Leacock has made today that sometimes we as politicians are too hard on ourselves and people do not give us as much credit that we should get and part of it is our fault. We pull down one another a lot and all sorts of things in these competitive political systems and sometimes we have angels dance on the head of a pin in order to identify differences.It is nine years since I have been on the Monetary Council and at this time I am the most senior minister on the Monetary Council for the consistency of the years of service as Minister of Finance. And I recall about three years or so ago, Mr. Speaker, a particular Prime Minister had himself made Minister of Finance so that he can come and represent his country at the Monetary Council. He had a problem with a bank, a domestic bank and basically, he wanted to railroad the Monetary Council and one colleague was prepared to entertain him and the decision which he wanted would have been useful for him particularly in the political pickle in which he had58found himself, but clearly deleterious for the Monetary Council. And he asked that a caucus be held of the Monetary Council that is to say, a meeting without the Governor of the Central Bank. So I had to point out to him immediately, I said, “look there is nothing called the caucus of the Monetary Council, you can have a caucus of the OECS Authority, because the OECS Authority consist only of the Heads, but a Member of the Monetary Council is the Governor of the Central Bank.” So I say I have no problem in us having coffee together with nobody else here if you do not want the Governor, but I tell you it would not be the caucus of a Monetary Council it will be an old talk certainly and I was so pleased when other Ministers of Finance said that the Prime Minister of St. Vincent is correct. There can be no such thing as a caucus and let us address the issue here in the presence of the Governor.And for 30 years politicians of all types all strips and description we have been able to keep our exchange rate EC$2.70 cents to US$1 which has added immensely to the stability of our economies and the members of the Monetary Council are politicians. So if anybody wants to see the responsibility of the politicians of the OECS just look at the performance of the Monetary Council. And that is why when the European Union wanted to set up the Central Bank that they came to us, they came to look at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and it was featured in news week. But in Europe they cannot trust their politicians to do that, it is bureaucrats have to do that. What a story eh? It is a remarkable story and there are others I can draw examples to.Mr. Speaker, I want to say this, in 1971 when I was 25 years of age I wrote a paper, along with Swinburne Lestrade of Dominica called, “The Political Integration of the Windwards and Leeward Island.” I was part of a group, I was a graduate student then, I was part of a group: Vaughan Lewis; Dwight Venner; Swinburne Lestrade; Bernard Marshall of blessed memory, a Vincentian; and myself and we decided to push the issue of regional integration in the Windward and Leeward Islands and we wrote papers. They were published in Caribbean Quarterly in 1972 [interjection] no, Caribbean Quarterly, the University of the West Indies Publication and just before the end of his life close to 1990 or thereabout, Dr. Pat Emmanuel a Grenadian was a fine student, he was of regional integration, studied seven approaches on West Indian Integration and in that study that was published in ISER (the Institute of Social and Economic Research) Emmanuel’s book, you had in it approaches by Sir Author Lewis, Eric Williams, Sir Hugh Wooding, Professor Telford Georges, others and Emmanuel selected the Gonsalves-Lestrade approach to put in a volume of seven approaches. As I say, I wrote that when I was 25 years of age.Today is a continuation of this life work. Almighty God has put us here together to do this good piece of work on behalf of people. I have been blessed that I was asked by my colleague heads to head the task force on this matter. I am hoping that I can see the consummation of this so that whatever else happens in one’s life, to show that an important part of your life work is being done and I am so grateful to all Honourable Members for their splendid and patriotic presentations. Today, the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the region could be justly proud of us. Thank you very much [applause].Mr. Speaker, accordingly I beg to move the operational part of the Motion which reads;BE IT RESOLVED (i) that this Honourable House endorse in principle an OECS Economic Union as detailed in the Draft OECS Economic Union Treaty; and (ii) that this Honourable House provide additional suggestions59for consideration by the Heads of Government of the OECS countries for further amendment, if any, to the existing Draft Treaty. I so move.Question put and agreed to.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, the suggestion is being made for us before we go to carnival we have one more meeting on Tuesday 29th June, 2010. There are some who say that is the middle of the preparations for carnival but we can do our work so that everyone sees that we are a nation of seriousness too. While we are singing and dancing and having been at the bars we do our work in this period. I know, Mr. Speaker, one or two persons particularly since they are no longer Ministers and they tend to run bars may not be so pleased with this, but accordingly I beg to move that this Honourable House do stand adjourned until Tuesday 29th June, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.Question put and agreed to. House adjourned at 6:20 p.m. Until Tuesday 29th June 2010 at 10:00 a.m.60