ST JOHN’S, Antigua – With the inaugural OECS Regional Assembly just two weeks away, Steering Committee member D Gisele Isaac-Arrindell said that the “pride of Antigua is at stake,” as preparations for the historical meeting continue.
“We have to do things at a particular level and Antigua & Barbuda has always been a leader in the OECS, and it is not time to drop the standard,” the Speaker of the House of Representatives said in an interview with OBSERVER Media.
“It is very, very important to us as committee members that the inauguration of this assembly is done with class, dignity and with the pomp and circumstance befitting such an important occasion,” she added.
Isaac-Arrindell noted that the OECS Assembly meeting is a momentous happening for the body that was formed over 30 years ago.
“I think it is historically important as we move closer and closer to an integrated OECS,” she said.
“We talk about the Caricom not really living up to expectation of the framers of that agreement, but nobody can really doubt that the OECS has been a model for integration and close-knit co-operation,” Isaac-Arrindell said.
The steering committee member noted that collectively, the members of the assembly have found success in aviation, regional security, pharmaceutical purchases and the currency union.
“All of those are demonstrative successes of this smaller union,” Isaac-Arrindell said.
“So the harmonisation of legislation is just another step in that progress of linking us even closer together.”
The launch of the sub-regional Parliament will commence on June 15 and will be held at the Parliament building here, which Isaac-Arrindell revealed was one of the largest and most modern in the OECS.
Antigua & Barbuda will welcome representatives from the nine members of the assembly, spanning the Eastern Caribbean. Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent & the Grenadines are full members, while Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands are associate members.
Full members will have a five-member delegation and associate members will have three delegates each, for a total of 39 representatives.
As the assembly is a bi-partisan effort, members from both the opposition and government of each country are invited to the proceedings.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, Opposition Leader Lester Bird, Chairman of the Opposition Gaston Browne, Minister of Finance Harold Lovell and Minister of Education Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro round out Antigua & Barbuda’s representatives.
Prime Minister of St Vincent & the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves will chair the assembly, which Isaac-Arrindell noted is a ceremonial event.
This first meeting of the assembly will not include a legislative agenda, but will include congratulatory speeches from each delegation and a speech from the chairman while on the Chamber floor.
According to Isaac-Arrindell, the first formal sitting of the assembly is slated to take place in October.
Although it is an itinerant parliament, Antigua & Barbuda has been designated as the parliament headquarters for the secretariat.