PRESS RELEASE – GROWING the economies of the OECS through greater functional cooperation and ensuring greater efficiency in public spending were two priority areas raised from the visit last Friday to the OECS Commission by new Chairman of the OECS, Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia.
Chastanet met with the OECS Director General, Dr. Didacus Jules, staff specialists and the leadership team during his inaugural visit there where he also outlined Government’s focus on greatly improving the status of education, health- care and citizen security.
Affirming the achievements and unique positioning of the Commission in driving the OECS regional integration process, Chastanet reiterated the importance of economic growth in improving the lives and well-being of citizens in all Member States.
“We must grow the economies of the OECS. The second part is that what we are spending on in terms of governance now is not about growing that money in absolute terms; it’s about making what we are spending more efficient and so the Commission plays a significant role in manifesting that opportunity,” said Chastanet.
Dr. Jules welcomed the new Chairman and said the Commission, working in unison with the Authority, had reached a number of milestones in advancing regional integration across education, health care and citizen security as just some functional areas but more needed to be done.
Said Dr. Jules: “As a region, we have achieved significant socio-economic outcomes; for example, infant mortality has greatly declined. But we have ways to go if we are to create the kind of equitable economic opportunities we are seeking for all citizens which derives from strong economic growth.
“Small business is the engine room of any economy as they bring employment, growth and innovation to a community and this is where we are also focusing our efforts as will be outlined in the soon-to-be-released OECS Growth and Development Strategy.
“I am pleased that we are making sound headway in this regard with, for example, our Youth Entrepreneurship Programme, 30 Under 30, which has identified innovative small businesses across the OECS for support by our Competitive Business Unit.
“As I have said before, I believe we are living in the most exciting time in history with innovation and technology being able to leverage previously unseen social, cultural and economic opportunities and we look forward to continue working with the Authority and OECS Chairman Chastanet to realise these opportunities for all citizens across the OECS.”