(Mckoys News) – Eastern Caribbean Central Bank: The ECCB released its new Strategic Plan this month, aiming to transform the region. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) is having a good year. In March the institution posted a $6.3m profit after three consecutive years in the black. This growth reflected the strength of the EC dollar which, at press time, had a backing ratio of 98.3 per cent – well above the statutory baseline of 60 per cent and even exceeding the bank’s 80 per cent operational target.
Fresh from these successes, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank is continuing its forward momentum with the launch of a new roadmap for growth. Unveiled earlier this month, the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan is a “new vision for a new era” according to ECCB Governor Timothy Antoine. He says people are at the heart of the initiative which calls for a new approach to tackle new challenges with the ultimate aim of delivering “socio-economic transformation”.
“It is about raising the quality of life of the people of this region,”says the Governor. “That is essentially the mission of the bank.”
To deliver on the ECCB’s twin mandate of maintaining financial stability and promoting economic development, the strategic plan identifies five main goals including enhancing organisational effectiveness, maintaining the EC dollar, strengthening the financial sector and being an effective advisor to the region’s governments.
A challenging climate
It is a comprehensive and wide-ranging plan, designed to meet the Caribbean’s challenges head-on. Antoine says: “This plan comes at a time when our region is confronted by many challenges, including slow growth, high unemployment and increased frequency and severity of natural disasters.”
The latter is especially relevant given the region’s recent battering by hurricanes Irma and Maria – two back to back category five storms which devastated parts of the Eastern Caribbean last month. Addressing the United Nations Assembly in September, Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet highlighted this issue, and Saint Lucia’s vulnerability, saying: “It is impossible to avoid the facts of climate change. What is fast becoming the new normal is the intensification of extreme weather events which demands from us real solutions in real time. No longer can we depend on old mechanisms with dense bureaucracies that delay or limit a nation’s ability to safeguard its citizens during a crisis and slow the rebuilding effort.”
This year, Irma and Maria are bound to make a dent in the region’s forecasted 3 per cent growth. The ECCB’s new strategy is focusing on making the region more resilient, creating a Regional Resilience Fund that all island nations in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) will contribute to and benefit from.
“Governments would consistently set aside a portion of revenues from the Citizenship by Investment funds, where they exist. [These] can then be leveraged to attract climate finance from the various facilities established to support the Paris Climate Accord,”explains Antoine. “You save for the rainy day and God knows it has been raining quite heavily around these parts lately.”
In addition, the bank intends to continue to engage in the expansion of infrastructure for clean energy projects. In this area it is leading by example with plans to green the entire ECCB campus in St Kitts within five years, making it wholly carbon neutral. “We are taking the lead, to signal to the world that this is important to us,” says Antoine. “Global warming is hurting our economies so we are not just talking, we are taking it seriously.”
Contributed by Dr. Colin O Jarrett
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