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ECCB Governor addresses bank’s future following release of 2022/2023 financial report


by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): In the latest episode of ECCB Connects, Governor Timothy N. J. Antoine addressed the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s (ECCB) performance for the 2022-2023 financial year.


As previously reported, the ECCB incurred a loss of near $55 million, the second consecutive loss for the bank. However, the governor informed the public that this is not the first time the bank has made consecutive losses and assured that the ECCB will bounce back as in the past.


“But I want to just give perspective; this is not the first time that the Central Bank has incurred a loss. There will be years when that will happen. In 2013, 14 and 15, we had three consecutive years of losses, then the bank bounced back. We had the next five years of profits, including record profits in 2020. So we did make a loss. The good news is that we’re making profits again, so 23/24 will be a bounce-back year for us. I can tell you the first three months of the new financial year, which started April 2023, we are already close to $15 million in profits just for the first quarter alone. So we are seeing a bounce back.”


The ECCB Governor continued, “And just to explain briefly, the reason for the bounce back is the [US] Fed has slowed its hike cycle because it is getting ready to sort of level off, and we are now enjoying high-interest rates; I mentioned 5% – whereas before we were almost at zero and then the Fed [agressively hiked rates] so we had investment losses. What is happening now is that investment income has overtaken the losses, so the bank is again profitable. And, of course, we are looking for ways to further insulate our balance sheet from potential rate hikes or adjustments. But we are a very conservative bank, so we made these adjustments whenever the Fed raises interest rates.”


The ECCB Governor also spoke about what is ahead for the regional financial institution. He discussed some of the key activities planned for the new financial year, including continued work in ensuring regional financial legislation is up to international standards, combatting the financing of terrorism and money laundering, derisking and more.


“I think the second area is really the work we continue to do in payments modernisation. We have done significant work in upgrading our legal framework with our new Payment System and Services Bill to really modernise the payment system to allow us to really have new and additional operators in the payment space come to the fore; to recognise the rise of the digital economy and to have the enabling framework around that. We’ve done a lot of work on there, and we continue to do, so that’s a continued effort at the strategic level. D-Cash is one project, but it is part of a far bigger program in terms of payment modernisation and financial inclusion. And I might add on financial inclusion, for the first time in our history, we did a Financial Literacy and Inclusion Survey, the results of which will be released shortly. And the reason why we did that is to better target and shape our strategy for financial literacy and inclusion.”


An interesting point coming out of the ECCB’s recently concluded Financial Literacy and Inclusion Survey is that many people in the Currency Union do not have bank accounts. The governor also highlighted the difficulty in opening bank accounts in our region. He said it is something the ECCB will be tackling in the future without compromising security measures that combat the financing of terrorism and money laundering.


“It is difficult to open a bank account in the Currency Union, and I may be jumping ahead… but I will tell you that is one of the things we definitely will be tackling in this new financial year. We have to make it easier for our people to open bank accounts.”


The ECCB Governor has challenged the countries in the Currency Union to double their economies in what he called “The Big Push”.


“What is “The Big Push”? It’s built around [the] idea of doubling the size of our economies, individually and collectively, over the next decade. I ask the question, what will it take to double the size of our economy over the next ten years? If you are ECCU level, it’s $21 billion to $42 billion. But every member country has their contribution in that; Antigua will be $5 billion – every country has a number. And the idea is not just strictly about economics; it’s really about how to we create a conversation about what could be and should be in our currency union. What do we want our future to look like? And what [are] our individual and collective responsibilities for that future? Because it requires both individual and collective action. And we’ve identified some theatres of transformation like wealth creation, credit expansion, digital transformation, food and nutrition security, energy security [and] human stock transformation.”

The Governor and, by extension, the bank has been advocating for increased wealth creation within the region. Educating and providing opportunities for more people in the Caribbean to create generational wealth.

“What do we need to do in these theatres, individually, nationally and regionally, if we take wealth creation, what will it take to double your net worth over the next decade? Some absolute thought is required, but there are some tools that are available. One of which is how we invest in the regional and international capital markets. So on that point, I remind everyone that in the ECCU, only 4%, one in 25 of our people, invest in the regional and international markets. In the United States, they are at 60%, three in five… We have $25 million in our banking system in deposits; we want to see more of our people not just be savers – they are good savers, many of us – but investors, financial investors – tap that market to create increment wealth.”

The Governor said the region needs to come to a consensus on the individual, national and regional actions to support the challenge of doubling our economies in the coming decade.

See the full episode of ECCB Connects here:




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