THE ORGANISATION OF EASTERN CARIBBEAN STATES (OECS)
- THE EASTERNMOST
CLUSTER OF PEARLS IN THE CARIBBEAN SEA.
The islands of the Caribbean, fondly referred
to as 'the islands' comprise Spanish speaking, French speaking and English
speaking people reflecting a melting pot of races living peacefully in mostly
vibrant democracies with stable economies.
The OECS sub-region comprises the islands of
Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada and Carriacou, Montserrat, St. Kitts and
Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, all former British colonies,
and members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. In the throes of
modernization, they offer the visitor a rich cultural pot pourri in a relaxed
environment, which makes them a truly enriching experience for the
The islands are endowed with climatic
conditions, beaches and rivers, which allow the visitor a wide choice of nature
activities, including underwater dive experiences among the best in the world.
In this habitat can be found some of the longest living people on earth,
including 126 year-old "Ma Pampo" in Portsmouth Dominica. Additionally,
in Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines can be found reservations of some
of the very few indigenous people left in the world - Carib Indians who are
descendants of the natives met by Christopher Columbus, the sailor from Genoa
Italy, who opened up contact between the islands and Europe in the 15th Century.
Given their small open economies, these islands have a track record in trading
with the world, and business is a natural part of the culture. But despite their
openness and high ratio of the import bill to GDP these islands do not
experience balance of payments crises. In fact, the Eastern Caribbean currency
(EC$), which is the legal tender in the OECS islands is one of the strongest
currencies in the Caribbean region having been tied at a rate of EC$2.7 to US$1
This unique strength of the EC$ is a direct
result of the reserve pooling arrangement of the sub-region necessitated by the
multi-state central banking arrangement. The eight (8) OECS islands share one
central bank, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), whose success story has
made it a model in the Caribbean region. The member economies as a group record
gross per capita income averaging US$3,000.
As part of its economic modernization thrust,
the OECS sub-region has over the years given priority to developing its greatest
endowment - its human resource. The islands can therefore offer a cadre of
tertiary level graduates in law, accounts, finance, and administration, and a
surplus of highly trainable secondary school level graduates for the provision
of support and ancillary services.
Another major component of this economic
modernisation and diversification thrust has been the policy decision to
liberalise the telecommunications sector, and in that regard Dominica has taken
the lead. This initiative has already resulted in substantial lowering of
telecommunication rates, a trend which is expected to continue.
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL
FINANCIAL SECTOR IN THE SUB-REGION
The Monetary Authority of the sub-region comprises the ECCB based in St
Kitts, and the respective Ministries of Finance in the eight member countries.
The Monetary Authority having recognized the pivotal role a stable and developed
financial sector must play in the development process, has in recent times,
pursued initiatives in that regard including:
- Establishment of the now thriving Eastern
Caribbean Home Mortgage Bank
- Establishment of the Government Securities
- Establishment of the Eastern Caribbean
- Strengthening of the administrative and
regulatory framework to ensure sustainability of the international financial
These initiatives, with the available
information technology dynamism, which have added depth to the financial sector
in the region, and the existence of the following international banks - Barclays
Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of
Commerce (CIBC), and Banque Francaise Commerciale have contributed to
positioning the sub-region to provide cutting edge financial services to the
In the process of strengthening the
administrative and regulatory framework the Monetary Authority has been
sensitive to all of the issues which challenge today's globalised financial
market, and has opted for sustainable growth of the sector in the sub-region.
In Dominica for example the choice of
sustainable growth rather than rapid unsustainable growth is evident in the
recent legislative and other measures introduced. The Money Laundering
(Prevention) Act and the Money Laundering (Prevention) Regulations are now law,
and several amendments to existing laws were introduced to make it possible to
screen out those with undesirable intentions.
The countries of the sub-region are committed
to pursuing the development of the international financial sector as an economic
diversification option, and as such have been mindful always to safeguard the
investors' sacred right to privacy and confidentiality, and are equally
committed to doing everything reasonably possible to preserve their good
reputation, as this is the surest way of ensuring stability and sustainability
of the sector.
every effort has been made to ensure that the details contained herein are correct and
up-to-date, it does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We do not accept
any responsibility, legal or otherwise, for any errors or omissions.
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