BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Thursday March 23, 2017 – After three years of losses, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank has posted a profit, and Governor Timothy Antoine said the institution will continue on this track.
“We expect that we would make a small profit at the end of this fiscal year, after three years of losses, and we have every expectation and plans to increase the profitability of the bank going forward,” said Antoine, who took over from the late Sir Dwight Venner in February last year.
Stressing he was encouraged by the progress recorded, Antoine said he was even more pleased that the Eastern Caribbean dollar remained strong.
“We have maintained the strength of our EC dollar which is exchange rate stability. Throughout the last year, the currency was backed an average 97 per cent – in some cases 98 per cent but on average 97 per cent. So on that score we continue to maintain a strong dollar,” he noted.
The ECCB Governor also highlighted the robust performance of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), citing “improvement in the performance of our national banks and our international banks; whether you look at capital adequacy or you look at profitability, we saw improvement.”
Antoine was also buoyed by the signs of positive growth within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) economies and, more so, the “slight reduction” in national debt and improvement in the fiscal accounts.
“We have also seen a reduction in the debt to GDP (gross domestic product) ratio for several of our countries…We’re down from 76 per cent to 75 thereabout…It is slight but it’s moving in the right direction.
“That’s an important target for us…We’re trying to get to a debt to GDP ratio of 60 percent by 2030,” he said.
Looking ahead, the Grenadian-born economist however stressed that OECS states have to fix their attention on building growth, jobs and improving competitiveness.
He urged member states to set their sights on reaching five per cent growth annually.
“I think we recorded 2 to 2.5 per cent growth in 2016. That is not bad, but not good enough,” the ECCB Governor said.
Antoine assured that the Bank would continue to support its members, as he revealed initiatives to boost growth and competitiveness.
These include the establishment of the partial credit guarantee scheme, the ECCU Credit Bureau and more opportunities for access to finance for youth.