CASTRIES: Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony began his one-year term as Chairman of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) last week, and pledged to address the main policy issues of financial stability, fiscal and debt sustainability and growth and competitiveness.
Dr. Anthony, who succeeded St. Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, said the Basseterre-based financial institution would continue to take a proactive approach in addressing the vulnerability in the financial system and will accelerate the implementation of strategies for strengthening the resilience of the financial sector.
“In this challenging environment, member countries of the currency union have been pro-active in developing an approach to addressing the impact of the global crisis,” said Anthony, noting that in 2010, the member countries signed the revised Treaty of Basseterre to establish the OECS Economic Union.
In addition, Anthony said the sub-regional countries – Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Kitts & Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands – signed the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union’s eight point stabilization and growth program as well as finalizing the strategy for work program coordination in 2012.
Anthony said these arrangements would form the platform for addressing the policy issues that would help stabilize the economies of the sub-region.
The Monetary Council is the highest decision making authority of the ECCB and comprises the eight Ministers of Finance of the ECCB member governments.
Anthony said that the ECCB would continue to protect investors and borrowers.
“Where instability and danger lurks especially in the face of unwise and imprudent corporate behaviour we will not hesitate to act and protect and the stability of our shared financial space,” he said.
Anthony said the ECCB assumed control of the Anguilla-based Caribbean Commercial Bank and the National Bank of Anguilla Ltd. on August 12.
“We are aware of the extremely high levels of non-performing loans in the currency union; the numbers no doubt exacerbated by the difficult economic circumstances of member states. It has been a difficult period for banks as well as their customers.”
The Prime Minister said the monetary council had approved a three-prong approach to growth and development consisting of focus stimulus and safety net programs geared towards providing employment for communities, the identification of a lead transformational sector with the capacity to put the economy on a path to sustained growth and development and a cluster of major infrastructural and related projects at the national and regional levels.
In his address, the Central Bank Governor, Sir Dwight Venner, said the financial institution was facing a period of unprecedented challenges, including negative growth for four consecutive years.
However, Sir Dwight expressed optimism that measures, including the eight point stabilization and growth program, coupled with pro-active action to deal with vulnerability within the bank system, would ensure the viability of the bank.