Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is calling for proper legislation for the free movement of people within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), pointing out that Dominica has always welcomed citizens from other islands to its shores.
“Every OECS citizen has been enjoying the benefits of the free movement into Dominica,” he said at the inaugural Sitting of the OECS Assembly in Antigua on Tuesday.
According to the prime minister, OECS citizens who come to Dominica have been enjoying similar benefits as those who are citizens of the island. “In terms of education, there are OECS children residing in Dominica, they have the same unfettered access to our education systems, they get the same benefits of our Dominican citizens, if they sit the national assessment exam they can earn themselves a scholarship to attend a secondary school,” he noted. “These things has been in place long before the OECS economic union.”
He stated that despite this and many other things that are in place, “we all agree we need to formalize it through legislation.”
The free movement of people through the OECS commenced on August 1, 2011 but it has not been fully formalized by all member states.
Meanwhile Opposition Leader, Hector John, has called for an amnesty for undocumented Dominicans living in Antigua arguing that the number of Dominicans living on that island is an example of how positively the free movement of people can affect its economic viability.
“It is estimated that about 10 to fifteen thousand Dominicans live in Antigua and I would like to give support to my colleague from Antigua when he asked for an amnesty for some of our nationals living in Antigua who are undocumented,” he said., “I think the amnesty will be timely and important because there are some of them who are working under the radar and some of them would like to make their full contribution to the development of Antigua and Barbuda…”
The Assembly is being held at Parliament’s Building in St. John’s, Antigua.