It is going to be a long haul to full economic union of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), according to Dr Len Ishmael, the Director General of the St Lucia-based OECS Secretariat.

“I would say implementation of the OECS economic union is going to be a long process, it’s not something which is going to be implemented overnight,” she explained during a brief visit to Dominica.

“We can’t do everything all at once, so we are focusing on those aspects of the legislative agenda that will allow us to implement everything to do with the single space that has to do with the creation of a single financial space, that has to do with the free movement of people through that space, and has everything to do with the free circulation of goods and services throughout that space,” the OECS official said.

Dr Ishmael added  there were many facets to the thrust for a single economic space in the sub-region that have to be dealt with over a period of time.

She gave one example: “intra-border taxes are going to have to go, but you can’t just legislate them out overnight”.

“You’ve got to deal with the administrative procedures, you’ve got to deal with the training,” she told reporters.

“As we in fact implement sections of the OECS economic union protocol, we will then move on to the other sections.  But it’s very important for us to be in a position where we can prioritise those aspects of the economic union that would lead to greater impact and greater utility for us first,” the Director General pointed out.

She said the OECS Heads of Government had decided that the movement of people is one of those things.

Dr Ishmael also mentioned the need for some kind of mechanism to monitor the process.

“If our people are going to be moving freely, clearly there’s going to need to be some place where they can lodge their grievances, if they feel that as OECS citizens their rights have been infracted upon in some way”.

She said this could take the form of a “regional ombudsman or any other mechanism that one can justify to institutionalize that option”, so that all OECS people will know there is an avenue for redress if they feel disenfranchised.