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ECCB Governor Denies Sir John’s Claim About St. Lucia’s Economy

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Friday, April 15, 2005 - The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has denied a claim by a former Prime Minister of St. Lucia that it said 25% of the island’s economy is based on drugs and money laundering.

The claim that St. Lucia survived on an “underground economy” was made early last month by former Prime Minister Sir John Compton.

In a statement to the press that was widely published locally, the former Prime Minister and Minister of Finance questioned the economic growth statistics presented by the current Government of St. Lucia and offered his own figures.

Sir John said in his statement: “Economic growth is not the U.S. million dollar homes at Cap which distorts their statistics nor is it the high profits made by the foreigners speculating in land in St. Lucia and it is not the underground economy from drugs and money laundering which the Central Bank says accounts for over 25% of St. Lucia’s economy.

Concerned that the claim was made by a former Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and aware of the implications for the country if the Central Bank in fact said so, Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony wrote to the Governor of the Central Bank seeking clarification.

In his letter of March 23, 2005 to the Governor of the ECCB, Sir Dwight Venner, Prime Minister Anthony asked for clarification as to whether it in fact said what Sir John said it did, and if so where and when such a statement was made.

The Governor of the ECCB replied on April 8, 2005 informing Prime Minister Anthony that no such statement was ever made by the Central Bank, now or ever.

Sir Dwight said in his letter that he had “asked the Research Department to do a search over the past several years to see if there was any reference” to Sir John’s statement and “they have assured me that there is no such reference.”

Prime Minister Anthony said he is “pleased to learn that the ECCB never said what Sir John said it did.”

According to Dr Anthony: “I did say in my letter to Sir Dwight that I doubted the Central Bank would have made such a statement; and I did say that no one, not even Sir John Compton, had the right to besmirch St. Lucia’s character and reputation like this.”

The Prime Minister said: “I am pleased that the ECCB has clarified the matter, more so because of its reputation as an institution with an international reputation, which is responsible for maintaining the stability of our currency and the safety and soundness of the Eastern Caribbean ‘s banking system.”

He said the ECCB, by its clarification of the situation, had reaffirmed that it was “an institution whose functions are still being carried out in the objective and professional manner which has been its hallmark since its establishment in 1983.”

The Prime Minister said he hoped “that Sir John will be man enough to now publicly admit that he knowingly wrote and circulated, had published and broadcast throughout St. Lucia, a statement he knew to be false, for the sole purpose of misleading the people of this country.”


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