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ECCB Governor hopeful that 2023 will see faster enactment of outstanding ECCU legislation

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) continues to push for the passage of essential legislation in the region.

During the presentation of the Communique of the 104th Meeting of the Monetary Council, the Prime Minister of St. Lucia and Chair of the Council, Hon. Phillip J Pierre shared that the passage of critical legislation in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) is outstanding.

According to the Communique, just about 71 per cent of the legislation in the region has been passed completely, with Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada having passed all the requisite legislation.

Some of the financial legislation includes amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism, the enactment of the proposed amendments to the Banking Act, and the harmonised Credit Reporting Bill to allow for the operation of the credit bureau regionally.

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) met with St. Kitts and Nevis Cabinet to discuss the legislative agenda for the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), which remains outstanding in St. Kitts and Nevis to date.

In St. Kitts and Nevis, ECCB met with the government and on the legislative agenda are the following:

Enactment of Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Agreement (Amendment) Bill

Enactment of Banking (Amendment) Bill

Issuance of Banking (Licences) Regulations

Issuance of Banking (Abandoned Property) Regulations

Gazetting of Payment System (Eastern Caribbean Automated Clearing House System) (Amendment) Rules, 2021

Decision on transfer of AML/CFT regulation for entities licensed under the Banking Act to ECCB and Enactment of Amendment to AML/CFT legislation after completion of 2020 Mutual Evaluation

Enactment of Eastern Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission Agreement Bill; and

Enactment of Investment Funds Bill

In an interview with ECCB Governor Timothy NJ Antoine, a WINN reporter asked what contributed to the slow pace at which the financial legislation has been enacted. Antoine shared that the countries have already been consulted, and the ECCB prepared the legislation internally and handed the drafts to the countries leaders.

The Governor shared that there was a myriad of reasons why governments would be slow in enacting the laws, including individual country priorities.

“But even with all of that effort on our part, sometimes we find that the countries are inundated, the AG’s office, with all sorts of big heavy legislative agendas. So, for example, they would have their domestic priorities, they have the regional ones like from the Central Bank and others, and then you have international ones… secondly sometimes it is a priority issue in the countries. What do I want to prioritise, to take to parliament in this particular period? That is ultimately a [country’s] decision. So we do find some countries moving faster than others… I’m very hopeful that all of the countries, including St. Kitts and Nevis, we will see – this year, 2023 – faster enactment of the outstanding legislation.”

What are these legislations expected to accomplish financially when 100% of the ECCU countries have passed them into law?

“One of the things pending is the Investment Funds Bill. We want to give people an opportunity – our people – to be able to invest, not just save, but to be able to invest in the regional market, in the capital market, to be able to invest in mutual funds… wealth creation needs to be a focus in our region. The average American is able to invest in the financial markets and generate wealth. We should be no different. We should be able to generate work regionally and internationally in the capital markets and generate wealth. You have millionaires in the United States who are millionaires because they had a long steady commitment to investing and generating wealth from the stock markets – both stock and equity. So I’m saying some of the legislation, for example, would do that.”

Additionally, the legislation, when enacted, will give the people of the region more opportunities and access to credit, to protect depositor funds and ensure people’s monies are safe.

“All of these pieces of legislation are intended or are aimed at protecting people, helping people pursue their dreams, growing the economic pie. They are not done just to say we want to pass legislation or because ECCB is asking. It is really connected to benefiting the people of our region… I mean, look at the value of the Central Bank… people sometimes take it for granted because it’s been around so long, and we’ve benefited from the exchange rate, and you have confidence in what we do. But the truth of the matter is this central back arrangement required legislation, the ECCB agreement; it required a Banking Act, and it required other pieces of legislation. My point being that we move forward as a region when we work together, and part of that is passing common legislation. So we are pushing hard with [th]e expectation that this year we will see even faster enactment of outstanding legislation.” – Governor of the ECCB, Timothy NJ Antoine.

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