by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): October 01, 2023, marked 40 years since the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has been fulfilling its mandate of “Advancing the people of the Currency Union” through financial stability, growth and development.
The monetary authority celebrated its 40th anniversary with a church service on Sunday, October 01, at the Antioch Baptist Church in Basseterre.
Timothy N.J. Antoine, Governor of ECCB, said the Bank has grown from a tiny seed into a mighty tree, one that the people of the Eastern Caribbean should be proud of.
“Forty years ago, we had assets of around EC $215 million. Forty years later, we have assets in excess of EC $6 billion. But most importantly, our dollar has remained strong. Since 1976 and throughout the last 40 years of our history of the Central Bank, we can count on the EC dollar: US $1.00 to EC $2.70.”
The EC currency has remained strong and stable over the last forty years, but do people in the Eastern Caribbean really understand what that means?
Governor Antoine said people often take the currency’s stability for granted, but it should really be something to ponder upon and cherish.
“Not far from here and countries far larger than our small states of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union are currencies that do not enjoy that stability. People go home tonight with their savings being, [for example] $1,000 and wake up with it being half of the value because of inflation overnight, because of a change in the value of the currency. We take these things for granted. We don’t think about them. That is always how it has been, and for those under forty, that’s all you’ve known. Your entire life, that’s all you know. Yet, for all the women and men in our bank, every single day, [they] work hard to ensure we keep that dollar strong, and I have to acknowledge the work of everyone and as I think about what we have achieved for the last forty years. I have to confess that God has been good to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.”
Despite the many natural disasters, economic recessions, a pandemic and inflation, the ECCB stood firm. Antoine, reflecting upon the work of the ECCB for the Financial Year ended March 31 2023, highlighted the resilience and strength of the EC Currency.
According to the Governor’s report, the Bank sustained more than 90% foreign reserves at the end of the financial year ended March 31, 2023, well above the 60.0% statutory requirement. The Bank’s high levels of reserves were beneficial, particularly during shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, the ECCB member countries had a strong economic rebound, with a projected growth rate of 5.0% in 2023.