Dominica’s ambassador to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Felix Gregoire, has called on St. Lucia to pass legislation to allow free entry and movement of OECS nationals within its borders.
Citizens of the OECS are expected to move freely among member states with only an identification card or driver’s license, work without a permit and receive indefinite stay at ports of entry.
Gregoire said that while several member states have enacted legislation to facilitate such initiatives, St. Lucia has been dragging behind.
“The OECS Secretariat is based in St. Lucia and St. Lucia has not been passing the required legislation,” he said at the 30th AGM of the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities (DAPD) on Monday. “They have been telling us that they will do it, it is there somewhere but it has not gone to parliament.”
According to Gregoire, he is “making a lot of noise with St. Lucia over that.”
“So now all my effort is on St. Lucia,” he pointed out.
He expressed optimism that the matter will be resolved and pointed out that he is not just being a critic of St. Lucia, but is simply informing the populace of what is going on.
“And I am not saying that to criticize them but for you to know that if you go to St. Lucia, they will give you six months and the six months will come from the CARICOM arrangement,” he stated.
Gregoire said the free movement of people and goods is presently being pushed vigorously within the OECS.
“We have specific things we are pushing right now in terms of the Union … free movement of people and free movement of goods and services, that’s high upon the agenda…” he noted.
He said Dominica has already passed laws for free movement of people and goods and just last month Antigua and Barbuda followed suit.
“Now in Dominica we have passed laws to make all those things happen …,” he noted. “So any OECS citizen can come to Dominica and enjoy all those benefits and they have been enjoying it even before we passed those laws … the government had made the arrangements for that to happen.”
The OECS is a nine-member grouping comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands are associate members of the OECS.