Eastern Caribbean Currency Union Growth Hit by Hurricanes

Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Governor Timothy Antoine


BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Thursday December 28, 2017 – The devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria derailed record growth by the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) this year.

According to Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Governor Timothy Antoine, before the Category 5 hurricanes hit, the ECCU was on pace to record its fastest growth in a decade.

“This welcomed development was rudely interrupted and reversed by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two of the most powerful storms ever recorded. Five of our member countries were impacted with three receiving direct hits,” he said in his Christmas message.

However, he pointed out, in the aftermath of these storms, “the ECCU family spirit was on full display as we supported affected members”.

Antoine also stressed that despite the impact of the hurricanes, the ECCB made significant strides “of which we can be justifiably proud”.

“These include return to profitability and the launch of our strategic plan,” he said.

The 2017-2021 strategic plan, ‘Transforming the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union Together‘ focuses on economic transformation.

It seeks to achieve five goals: maintaining a strong and stable EC dollar; ensuring a strong, diversified and resilient financial sector; being the advisor of choice to participating  governments in pursuit of fiscal and debt sustainability; actively promoting the economic development of member territories; and enhancing organizational effectiveness to ensure responsiveness and service excellence.

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  • Calvin Hodge Lake

    i am still amazed that Caribbean political leaders, after independence from Britain, unlike
    other Caribbean Islands, they are still using a currency with the queen’s face on the money.

    what the Caribbean islands should have done, those that gain independence, formulate
    their own currency among all the independent islands rather than each island has its own
    currency, such as what has been done in Europe.

    So why is this politician worry about the EC dollar when the queen’s face is still on the currency.
    if his face was on that money then he should be worrying about the strength of the money such as Jamaica that had a currency peg to the U.S. dollar at one time, but has devalued over the years because of poor governance, oweing billions of dollars to the IMF, etc.

    Change your strategy and thinking, get your own currency.

    • Pat Robinson Commissiong

      I am not sure that Mr Lake understands the currency to which this article refers. (1) The islands involved in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union do not have separate currencies. They all use the Eastern Caribbean dollar. Mr Lake says that on independence they should have formulated their own currency. The EC dollar is their own currency. It is not controlled by Britain, notwithstanding the head of the Queen on the currency. (2) The EC$ is pegged to the US dollar. (3) The reason for retaining the Queen’s head on the currency is that the islands who use this dollar are either still realms of the British monarch with Governors General as their local Heads of State, or British Overseas Territories. There are no republics in the group, like Trinidad or Guyana (both of which are now republics with their own currencies, and no longer use the Eastern Caribbean dollar as they once did). But the Queen has no control over the EC currency. (4) The EC dollar actually has a higher value than the currencies of Trinidad, Jamaica or Guyana. The rate of exchange is EC$2.70 to the US dollar. Barbados, with a separate currency was the only Eastern Caribbean former British colony which had a more favorable rate of exchange with the US dollar – and Barbados has been experiencing some rocky economic times recently. (5) The fact that the Queen’s Head is on the dollar bills (and also the coins) really has nothing to do with the value of the currency, nor with the economic development of the islands involved. That is merely a figurehead. The islands determine their own economic development. So it really matters little how one decorates the dollar bill. The Co-operative Republic of Guyana has notable historic buildings, local flora and fauna, and noteworthy natural sites like the Kaiteur Falls on their dollar bills; but the Guy$ is worth less than 2 cents EC, and Guyana’s economy is struggling. Jamaica, as he pointed out, has devalued its currency over the years since independence. So clearly the presence or absence of the Queen’s portrait on a dollar bill is not a factor driving either the strength of the currency or the state of the economy.