Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis: Terrance Drew, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, highlighted five priorities for the OECS during his term. These are Health, Violence as a Public Health Problem, Energy, and Environment.
He made this statement during the flag-raising and opening ceremony of the 73rd Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) meeting on Sunday, June 18, 2023.
PM Drew expressed that it is essential to provide more opportunities in their native countries for their social and economic growth and highlights the importance of equitable policies to make young people eligible to earn a living wage and develop skills they need to succeed in the global digital economy.
The Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis and newly appointed OECS chairman also highlight the need to invest in industries including sports, the digital and orange economies, health, and tourism services in order to maximize the potential of the region’s talented young population.
He further mentioned that health is another topic that needs special attention. The OECS Chairman asserted that a country’s ability to lessen the disease burden and maintain its people’s health is the key to social stability and global progress.
In order to maximize resources for the delivery of health care, Minister Drew emphasizes that the OECS must establish centres of health excellence throughout the region, with each nation having specific areas of ability.
With this strategy, costs and services will be easily distributed among the union members so that no country should be burdened to provide every service for every citizen, and expenses will be shared equally across the union. This type of approach will make specialized health care affordable and easily accessible for all citizens in the union.
During the address, PM Drew also underlined the significance of high-tech technologies, economic opportunities and resilient infrastructure to upscale residents’ lifestyles in OECS countries.
In addition, he also displayed the seven components that will form the foundation for St Kitts and Nevis development plan. These are Green energy transition, food security, sustainable industries, economic diversification, creative economy, social protection and COVID-19 recovery.
After obtaining the OECS Chairmanship, PM Drew addressed the guests present during the ceremony and appreciated them for considering him a perfect candidate to be appointed as the chairman.
He said, “I stand here today prepared to serve as the OECS Chairman, with the support of other OECS government leaders, whose support would be crucial to the success of my chairmanship over the coming year”.
The 73rd meeting of the OECS Authority was organized on June 18, 2023, at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Sir Cecil Jacobs Auditorium, where PM Terrance Drew was appointed as the Chairman of OECS.
Several attendees from different OECS countries attended the event. They were Didacus Jules- Director-General of the OECS; Kennedy Simmonds, Permanent Secretaries and senior government officials; Dame Marcella Liburd, Governor General of St Kitts and Nevis; Prime Ministers and Ministers of the OECS Authority; Members of the Nevis Island Administration, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, students and other visitors.
The prime minister discussed the strategic goals he will pursue while serving as the OECS authority’s chairman. He claimed that the region needs solid institutions for successful development. This involves a powerful authority, skillfully run, highly functional, motivated, efficient, and productive personnel.
OECS Chairman Terrance Drew said, “We must engender public confidence and foster the cooperative partnerships and relationships that are so crucial in the complex and precarious geopolitical societies and economies that characterize the world today and of which the OECS is a part.”
He explained that he took over as chairman at the beginning of hurricane season, which caused chaos across the island. COVID-19’s economic and social effects are still being felt in the OECS region, and the Russia-Ukraine war continues to increase the prices, creating supply chain issues.
In addition, Minister Drew explained that the OECS region is at the centre of the effort to fight against climate change, a problem that no one is to blame for and that no one can afford on either an environmental or financial level, which is why he would be adopting these strategies to deal with such circumstances.