ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Minister of Finance and the Economy Harold Lovell says that government will continue to financially bail out ABI Bank despite continued ambiguity concerning the future of the country’s relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“We have committed to bailing out ABI. What we have put in so far is only a small portion of what ultimately we will commit to this bailout effort,” said Lovell in an interview with OBSERVER Media.
“What I think, however, is that our commitment can not be questioned with regard to protecting the interests of the depositors – first and foremost – the creditors, the staff of ABI and of course also protecting the soundness and safety of the regional financial sector,” he added.
Lovell noted that the Antigua & Barbuda government is currently in talks with the IMF to resolve issues pertaining to the bailout. He reported that IMF representatives were on island last week, at which time discussions continued between the two entities.
When asked if the further financial intervention to ABI Bank would trigger further repercussions from IMF, Lovell said, “We are very committed to ensuring that we follow through on a path that is best for Antigua & Barbuda and our discussions with the IMF have all focused on the need for an Antigua & Barbuda and an Eastern Caribbean solution.”
Antigua & Barbuda will take part in IMF and World Bank’s spring meeting taking place next week in Washington, DC. At that time discussions will continue with IMF higher-ups in efforts to come to a resolution concerning the ABI matter.
Late last year, the IMF suspended payment to the government of Antigua & Barbuda due to its decision to inject $40 million into ABI Bank to stave off the financial collapse of the national bank.
IMF stopped further payments since the ABI bailout was not factored into the government’s repayment abilities in 2010 when the loan details were solidified.
At that time, government had already received over $166 million of a more than $300 million loan from IMF, leaving $54 million outstanding.