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Premier pushing for open skies regime in OECS

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith. NDP photo [edited]

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith. NDP photo [edited]

Fresh from St Kitts where he attended the 64th meeting of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has declared that his government will further pursue an open skies regime that would make it easier for air service providers to operate within the sub-region.

“We held discussions on air services in the region and were updated on the need to harmonise the legal and regulatory standards across the region. This is identified as a barrier to intra-OECS airline operations.”

“We recognised that the approach of creating an open skies regime would make it easier for air service providers to operate in the region, and steps will be taken to further advance this initiative. As a part of this strategy, greater emphasis will also be placed on promoting greater networking among the region,” the premier told journalists this week during a press briefing at his Road Town offices.

The 10 members of the OECS are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Dominica,

Martinique, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, and the Virgin Islands.

Premier Smith further disclosed that, during the meeting held from March 2 to 5, the heads of government discussed the need to find strategic measures aimed at strengthening their shared court system — the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

“After a fruitful discussion, measures were approved centered on an agreement to upgrade the current case management system to make it a fully electronic system. This is expected to increase the efficiency of the court and allow for electronic filing of documents.”

Brexit

Premier Smith, in the meantime, said there was also discussion on Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) through a process dubbed Brexit.

He explained: “We also discussed the issue of the impact of Brexit on the region as we recognised that some programmes could be affected as the OECS also participates in European Union-funded projects and initiatives, from which the BVI in turn also benefits. One example of this type of project is the Global Climate Change Alliance project on Climate Change Adaptation.”

“Through this regional OECS project funded by the EU, drainage works in the Cane Garden Bay and Brewer’s Bay areas are being conducted. The project also includes the retrofitting of the sewerage treatment plant in Cane Garden Bay. The revetment project in Cane Garden Bay is also a part of this initiative. Altogether, approximately €543,755 has been allocated to the BVI for these projects. So, we saw the need to discuss what Brexit means for the organisation and our region, and how we all can work together to create avenues to enhance functional cooperation,” added Premier Smith.

He further stated that the information received and relationships forged at the OECS meeting can be of ‘tremendous’ benefit to the BVI.

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