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A group of representatives from the OECS Commission in St. Lucia spent the day in St. John’s meeting with stakeholders to discuss important issues related to advancing the sub-regional integration movement.
The delegation held talks with officials from the Ministry of Trade, led by Minister E.P. Chet Greene, Permanent Secretary Ambassador Clarence Pilgrim, and
Director of the Prices and Consumers Affairs Division Orrin Steele, among others. Ambassador Pilgrim explained that the team wanted to receive an update from ministry officials on Antigua and Barbuda’s progress in implementing a new Consumer’s Protection Act, and to determine how the Commission could assist in expediting the passage of the legislation.
Minister Greene assured the team that the government is prioritizing consumer protection legislation and that the matter is currently with the Ministry of Legal Affairs, pending introduction to parliament.
The Ministry has a new business plan for 2024 featuring several pieces of legislation that will significantly benefit consumers, including updates to the Prices Control Act and Rent Control Act.
Additionally, the Ministry is establishing a portal for consumers to lodge complaints against businesses electronically, with a database that will provide information on the number of complaints lodged against a particular business, as well as the suggested prices of specific items for comparison with supermarket prices in real-time.
The ministry officials revealed that the system is expected to launch sometime next year.
The OECS team also met with other stakeholders, including media representatives, to discuss the OECS’s accomplishments, such as the creation of a single economic space in the 2010 Revised Treaty of Basseterre, which enables the free movement of people and capital within the grouping.
The arrangement is set to change in the future to allow OECS citizens and their non-OECS spouses and families to travel and reside together.
The Commission is currently working on a common border control system, an electronic immigration card system, and Social Security portability within the sub-region.