ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The bailout of two Antiguan banks and the financial fallout of two major insurance companies, coupled with the ongoing effects of the global economic crisis, have put a strain on the fiscal strength of the economies of Caribbean countries. These events have also impacted the ECCB’s financial performance.
Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Sir K Dwight Venner, during the presentation of the 2011/2012 annual report, explained that the ECCB, along with member governments “have been fully involved in the resolution efforts” of Bank of Antigua, now Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank, ABI Bank Ltd and CLICO and BAICO insurance companies.
He noted, in an address televised across the OECS sub-region, that, “The bank realised a net income of $11.7 million as compared to the previous year’s income of $22.6 million.”
Sir Dwight further stated that contributing to this “was a reduction in commission income on foreign transactions and lower gains on the sale of securities.”
According to him, the major challenge facing the OECS countries is “the return to growth at a sufficiently high level to reduce unemployment to reasonable rates, to lower poverty levels, and to assist in maintaining the human development indices at their current levels and improving them where warranted.”
The governor added the ECCB has placed this subject very high on its agenda and has been involved in some very intense work in-house and has participated in discussions at the country, currency union, regional and international levels in search of solutions to this problem.
A task force on debt, growth and development has been set up by the bank’s Monetary Council to look into that matter. Its membership includes representatives from the ECCB, OECS member countries, the Caribbean Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
However, despite the current challenges, Sir Dwight is reporting the total assets of the ECCB as standing at $3.3 billion as of March 2012, compared to $2.8 billion for the previous year.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)