PM Douglas (L) and PM Manning (R)
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
October 22, 2008 (CUOPM)
Thursday’s meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis between the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Patrick Manning and Heads of Government from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States will discuss further the idea of the oil-rich Caribbean republic becoming a member of the proposed sub-regional economic union and a subsequent political union with St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas in an interview with a reporter following a tour on Thursday afternoon of the work in progress to restore the Frigate Bay strip to normalcy by this weekend following damage by Hurricane Omar noted that Prime Minister Manning and OECS leaders met in St. Lucia last month to discuss the Port of Spain Initiative. Manning and the Grenada Prime Minister Hon. Tillman two months ago travelled to St. Kitts to brief Prime Minister Douglas on the initiative.
“We felt that the second initiative (Political Union) is a very serious initiative. We know that it is an initiative that is being proposed by those three OECS countries and Trinidad and Tobago. We believe that we wanted to discuss that in a much more frank and open way in the presence of the Prime Minister Manning and so we invited him to come to St. Kitts and Nevis when we meet on Thursday to pursue this particular discussion,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
The OECS proposes to put in place the Economic Union by 2009. Trinidad and Tobago wants to join the economic union by 2011. The Political Union comprising Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines should be implemented by 2013.
“There is a lot of work to be done because we would have to do a number of studies. We have to look at how Trinidad and Tobago would adjust to the common currency that we use in the OECS countries; whether we will begin to use the Trinidad currency or whether Trinidad will begin to use our currency or whether there will be some kind of convergence of currencies as we look at the way forward,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He pointed out that Trinidad and Tobago with its petro dollars; it would be good capital for investment in the islands of the OECS. “But we would also want to make sure that there would be solid investment by Trinidad investors in the smaller economies of our countries or whether we would simply have the investment in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Dr. Douglas, quickly pointing out that there is still a lot to be discussed and ironed out.
Prime Minister Douglas said a number of possible scenarios could be identified as the process moves forward in consultation with the peoples of the region.
“It is still in the discussion stage. Although we say it is desirable, we do not know what the Heads of Government will say collectively to the request of Trinidad and Tobago to become a member of the OECS,” said Dr. Douglas at the heads of government level.
The Meeting at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) will be attended by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Hon. Baldwin Spencer; Montserrat’s Chief Minister, Dr. the Hon. Lowell Lewis; St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Hon. Stephenson King; St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves; Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Hon. Patrick Manning and host Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas.
Grenada’s Prime Minister Hon. Tillman Thomas will not attend but will be represented by his Foreign Minister, Hon. Peter David. Dominica’s Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerritt will not make it as he continues to assess the damage caused by the recent passage of Hurricane Omar. British Virgin Islands and Anguilla Chief Ministers Hon. Ralph O’Neal and Hon. Osbourne Fleming will also be absent.