Further Progress Is Possible Says PM Browne As OECS Holds First-Ever Authority Meeting By Videoconference


Prime MinisterGaston Browne today, Thursday 18th June 2020 handed over the reins of his year-long tenure as chairman of the OECS at the 69th meeting of the Authority which took place by videoconference. All Heads of Government were in attendance except for St. Kitts and Nevis and Guadeloupe.

The prime minister participated in the first-ever regular Authority meeting held by videoconference from his office on Queen Elizabeth Highway, in a session that lasted almost four hours. The last face-to-face meeting of the OECS Authority took place during 26-27 February 2020 in St. Kitts and Nevis, and the Authority usually meets in regular session twice yearly in June and November. The chairmanship of the OECS Authority rotates annually in alphabetical order.

PM Browne assumed the chairmanship of the OECS Authority a year ago at the 67th meeting of the OECS Authority held at the Royalton resort at Dieppe Bay in Antigua. Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region in late February, and the subsequent lockdown implemented by all OECS member states, the Authority has conducted several meetings by videoconference, including an emergency session on COVID-19 and one on the downgrade of ECCAA to category 2 status.

During the handover ceremony at the beginning of today’s meeting, prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica assumed the chair and will remain in office until June 2021. In his address as outgoing chair, PM Browne commended fellow OECS member states for their firm and decisive action in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic by putting in place comprehensive and timely measures that mitigated the pandemic’s worst impacts on the region.

‘From the emergence of the pandemic we acted decisively and with a strong degree of cohesion, and today we are all better for it,’ Browne told his colleagues. ‘I now pass the baton of leadership to my brother Roosevelt Skerrit and urge that as we face the next episode in this uncertain drama, we strengthen our collective determination as this is the only way we can survive this existential crisis.’

Prime Minister Browne took a few moments to cite some of the highlights of his tenure as chairman, including the revival of the OECS Assembly as a parliamentary forum for building consensus on the regional integration agenda. He pointed out that the profile of the OECS Assembly was heightened when its last session was live-streamed for the first time and the Assembly session had an unprecedented 200,000 persons following.  The agility and responsiveness of the OECS, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, was a feature of OECS actions during the past year, in PM Browne’s view.

He highlighted the institutional tenacity of the Organization in sourcing much-needed COVD-19-related equipment and supplies through its pooled procurement process that resulted in lower prices. Much of the equipment came from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) including PPE and RT-PCR testing machines, the most sophisticated and reliable testing equipment available.

Having led the Organization through its greatest crisis, with member states now on the cusp of re-opening their economies, PM Browne encouraged his colleagues to keep the course they had charted to see them through the pandemic and to recover robust economic growth.

OECS Heads reviewed the state of play regarding the OECS COVID-19 mitigation and prevention measures in a broad range of areas, and they also examined other priority matters of their agenda, including the annual work programme of the OECS Commission; the budget of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court presented by the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Dame Janice Pereira; an update on the state of the Organization’s finances; as well as a progress report on the actions taken so far by ECCAA to have its category 1 status restored by the US FAA. Chairman of the Authority, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, invited PM Browne to continue to play a leading role in the resolution of the ECCAA matter.

On the question of the re-opening of their economies, the Heads listened attentively to the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda as he explained the measures put in place by his Government to facilitate safe air travel and tourism. Many of the other OECS member states are due to begin re-opening their economies in the coming weeks. Heads discussed the practicalities of a safe ‘travel bubble’ between their countries.

The Heads of Government also examined a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba relating to apparent attempts by certain elements within the US Government to place Cuba (again) on a US State Department list of countries deemed to be non-cooperative in the fight against international terrorism, which would trigger unilateral coercive measures by the US. Cuba had been removed from the list in 2015 as part of a diplomatic normalization process between the US and Cuba that took place during the Obama administration.

In a related matter, Heads discussed reports of new draft legislation introduced in the US Senate by Florida Republican Rick Scott on Wednesday 17th June. The legislation targets countries that contract Cuban doctors through the Cuban Government’s medical brigades deployed in over 60 countries around the world. The bill requires the US State Department to publish the list of countries that contract Cuban doctors; and to consider that as a factor in their ranking in the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

The meeting regarded this as a dangerous development that, if successful in removing Cuban medical teams from OECS countries, could severely undermine the delivery of health-care in member states. Heads agreed on a course of action to confront this challenge to their social safety net.

Advertise with the mоѕt vіѕіtеd nеwѕ ѕіtе іn Antigua!
We offer fully customizable and flexible digital marketing packages.
Contact us at [email protected]


  1. I like the OECS and I support Antigua being a part of it 100%.

    I do not like CARICOM, and I think CARICOM is a waste of Antigua’s time and money.

    Besides, CARICOM allows thousands of bad behaving immigrants come in from Jamaica and D.R.!


  3. I know the PR personnel missed or failed to mention a significant portion of the meeting.

    There is no way that meeting could have ended without giving support to the BLM campaign.

    Please Antigua Newsroom’s editor make the necessary correction.

    I am certain there was full discussion on the BLM campaign…..if not how could all these big brains intellectuals missed that?

Comments are closed.