CHARLESTOWN, Nevis - AS the Secretariat of the OECS continues to sensitise citizens of member states on the benefits of Free Movement, Premier Mark Brantley had taken time out to explain to Kittitians and Nevisians how important it is to the Federation’s economy.
During a recent edition of his ‘On The Mark’ programme, Premier Brantley spoke to the benefits of Free Movement and how it has impacted the island and the Federation as a whole. Noting that over the last decade St. Kitts and Nevis had seen an influx of foreign nations from across the OECS and the wider Caribbean region.
Those individuals had brought their cultures, work experience and skillset to the Federation, which continue to assist in developing the local economy.
Under the Revised Treaty of Basseterre, holders of any passport from within the OECS can travel to the various jurisdictions to work and live. However, Kittitians and Nevisians have not been capitalisng on this opportunity,
“Well, I say this to say when you see people here in St. Kitts and Nevis and they tell you they’re from St. Vincent, they’re from Dominica, they’re from Grenada, they’re from St. Lucia, they’re from Antigua - as the case may be - I want you to understand that the protocols that are in place as such, that there’s no Government that can stop them from coming because that is what we have agreed,” Brantley told the listeners.
In recent times, many locals have been complaining about the number of foreign nationals within the Federation, including those from CARICOM member states. But Brantley reminded that the same applies for those within the Federation who seek opportunities within the OECS.
“Equally, if we were to find opportunities in St. Lucia, in Dominica or in Antigua, then it [is] the same way within the context of the OECS…I am saying it so our people can understand that these are the realities, and as we integrate and open up the region and as our people start moving around freely, what it means is that it will become more competitive for work.”
Government advisors and political directorates have welcomed the inflow of OECS nationals because they believe it would assist in boosting their countries’ economy, as some have argued that the Federation is under populated since the birth rate has consistently been on the decline.
That, according to Dr. Patrick Martin, is having an adverse impact on the country in a number of areas, and when coupled with the number of young men being killed, it could have a severe trickle down effect in the future.
Meanwhile, Premier Brantley called on citizens and residents to take stock of the available opportunities.