By Clive Bacchus
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Timothy Antoine has reported that some scenarios predict that the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union(ECCU) economies are projected to contract by between 5 and 7 percent this year, accompanied by a sharp rise in unemployment.
That prediction sets the backdrop for this year’s Financial Information Month’s(FIM) drive to improve personal financial management in these tough times and the days ahead.
Corporate Relations Officer of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Karine Phillip Somersall, a guest on WINN’s “Inside the News” programme, said the thrust to improve financial literacy/ information started in 2002 in collaboration with partners in the financial sector across the region.
“So we have the commercial banks, credit unions, different financial institutions, insurance businesses, different ministries of government, private sector partners, and community groups, and we all come together to develop programs in each of the territories…”
This year, the focus is on building financial resilience in a COVID-19 environment through knowledge and information about financial matters.
Nigel Browne, of the Corporate Relations Department of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, outlined the activities for the month that in include a Virtual Library Hour for Primary Schools, Community Outreach programs in the media, A Charity Outreach- providing care packages to people in need, a Virtual Business Symposium on Oct 29, a Virtual Treasure Hunt 30th October, a daily Quiz on a Smart Finance App for persons to win prizes from FIM partners (the App can be downloaded from the Google Play or The Apple Store), Financial Tips, and the wearing of FIM T-Shirts.
The sub-themes, this year are – “Living Through Rainy Days”: How to manage your money in challenging times; “It’s Happening Online”: Using the internet as a tool in the new normal- How the internet has become an essential tool in all facets of daily lives and “Turning the Frown Upside Down”: Creating Opportunities from COVID-19.
Apart from FIM, since the COVID-19 outbreak, the ECCB has focused on a number of priorities to provide support to the economies of the region.
The ECC offered financial support to member governments through an EC $4 million loan(EC$500,00 for each of the eight members of the ECCU; reaching an agreement with the ECCU Bankers Association on a loan deferral (moratorium) program for customers for up to six months. That was extended effective Oct 1 for a further 12 months.
reducing the Discount Rate to 2.0 percent from 6.5 for lending to governments and banks, according to Mr. Antoine.