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Tuesday, July 25, 2006 


Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Governor says
education skills “must put people in satisfying jobs” (238/2006)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 25TH 2006 (CUOPM) – Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Sir K. Dwight Venner said member countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union must ensure that education plays a key role in upgrading the levels of economic activity and competitiveness of their respective economies and that education skill levels though high in the Eastern Caribbean “must put people in satisfying jobs.”

“The education levels though high, are sometimes not specific with respect to skills, …and so we really have to make very significant investment in intellectual capital, in education basically and trade imports specific activities,” Sir Dwight said in an exclusive interview with the Communications Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister (CUOPM).

“So for example, you have a tourism industry, but you need to educate people to take positions at all levels in the tourism industry, to management, technical areas, we must educate our people in those particular areas,” said Sir Dwight, who was a guest on the programme “National Echo.”

He said investments in basic infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications, electricity utilities, water are also important to economic development. “Those are very significant and in terms of productivity the ability to adapt modern technology to our particular needs those are critically issues,” said Sir Dwight, who recently headed a Task Force to make recommendations for an Eastern Caribbean Economic Union.

The Central Bank Governor said that the report, which was presented to the OECS Authority two weeks ago, is required to move the OECS process forward from the original Treaty of Basseterre.

“We think the change over the 25 years and given the movements in the region, the CSME and other international arrangements, we need to upgrade the Treaty of Basseterre to new arrangements, which involves moving to a Common Market and Economic Union,” said Sir Dwight.

He said that the highlight of the Report is that the Treaty of Basseterre will now take on an element called supra nationality, “which means across the board configuration of economic and political arrangements.”

“There will be more centralisation decision making. All elements of the execution of the new treaty, the institutional arrangements are being put in place so that implementation would be much more effective. Also with respect to economic arrangements, we would be headed towards the single financial and economic space, meaning that the impediments to movement of capital and labour, across the OECS would be significantly removed,” said Sir Dwight in the interview.

He said the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union faces domestic, regiuonal and international challenges.

“The primary international challenge now has to do with globalisation, trade liberalisation. We are party to several arrangements like the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the European Partnership Arrangement and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and with the Free Trade Association of the Americas (FTAA), lurking some where in the background,” said Sir Dwight, who also pointed out that the price of oil is a very significant factor for OECS at this time.

He said that for the OECS nations that produce commodities like sugar and bananas, the new trade regimes, “mean that the preferences for these commodities are being removed ever so gradually, but eventually, it will all be removed and so therefore, we have to move to new levels of activity.”

Regionally, the challenge for the OECS is the CSME. “How do we incorporate ourselves successfully into the CSME and one of the reasons for having an Economic Union in the OECS is to see if, as a bloc, we can integrate ourselves successfully into the CSME,” said Sir Dwight.

He said that on the domestic level, the issues of high debt and low productivity as well as the challenges of poverty and HIV/AIDS and poverty are issues that are being tackled.

“These are issues that we have to treat, but one of the philosophical approaches to the OECS arrangement is that we are better able to cope as a bloc than as individual countries,” Sir Dwight said.

Copyright © 2005 By The Government Of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) & Nevis

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