The OECS was created on 18 June 1981, with the Treaty of Basseterre, which was named after, the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis. The OECS is the successor of the Leewards Islands' political organisation known as the West Indies Associated States (WISA). The OECS currently has nine members, spread across the Eastern Caribbean. Together, they form a near-continuous archipelago across the Leeward Islands and Windward Islands. All of the members-states of the OECS are either Full or Associate members of the Caribbean Community and were among the second batch of countries that joined the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Membership is listed alphabetically:
|Membership||Antigua and Barbuda|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines|
|British Virgin Islands|
The OECS member countries have not adopted laws which set forth clear and comprehensive frameworks for public sector procurement. The Ministry of Finance (MOF) of each country is empowered by Finance and Audit Acts (FAAs) to regulate procurement. MOF issues Financial Regulations (FR) and Procurement and Stores Regulations (PSR). These rules can easily be changed as executive acts of the Minister of Finance and do not reflect established government procurement principles and practices.
According to the World Bank Country Procurement Assessment Report (CPAR) for the OECS conducted in 2003, existing rules promote selective bidding, excessive discretion in decision making, and do not address issues and aspects which are key to efficiency, fairness, transparency and accountability, such as, for example:
- public bid opening;
- qualifications on suppliers and contractors;
- award to the lowest evaluated bidder;
- bid protests;
- debarment of bidders;
- disclosure of procurement rules; and
- maintenance of procurement records.
In addition, conditions for use of various procurement methods are not defined and there are no separate rules for procurement of consulting services.
In recognition of the need to reform and harmonize the public procurement processes within the OECS significant strides have been made over the last couple decades. By virtue of the Eastern Caribbean Drug Service Agreement in 1986 the inter-governmental organization the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service (PPS) was established. The OECS PPS has provided Member States with a reliable supply of high quality pharmaceutical and medical products, which are safe and effective. PPS has a comprehensive quality assurance program that encompasses a restricted international tendering system and contractual terms that ensure quality and post marketing surveillance. In 2009 OECS Governments received funding for their Electronic Government Regional Integration Project (EGRIP) which objective is to promote the efficiency, quality, and transparency of public services through the delivery of regionally integrated e-government applications that take advantage of economies of scale. The project is expected to take four years and will significantly impact the development of eBusiness and the public sector financial management system.
On December 30th 2009, a landmark in OECS development occurred when after several years of negotiation leaders of the OECS with the exception of Montserrat signed off on a new Treaty of Basseterre establishing the OECS Economic Union.
To learn more about the OECS visit the OECS Secretariat Website (http://www.oecs.org)