Left to Right: Governor Sir Dwight, new
Chairman ECCB PM Anthony - St. Lucia and former Chairman PM Douglas - St.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - The outgoing Chairman of the Monetary Council of
the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has painted a picture of growth and
strength within the currency union, as the chairmanship of the council changed
hands here last week. At the 53rd Handing Over ceremony held at the Bay Gardens
Hotel in Rodney Bay, the chairmanship of the council was passed on to Saint
Lucia’s Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony, by Prime Minister of St.
Kitts and Nevis Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas.
The outgoing chairman said under his tenure, the St. Kitts and Nevis
headquartered Central Bank sought to address any perceived vulnerabilities
affecting the currency union by strengthening its fiscal reform initiatives. As
a direct result he noted economic activity within the ECCU had expanded in the
first quarter of 2005 over the same period in 2004. Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) a main indicator of economic growth grew by 3.6 % lead by increase
activity in the tourism industry and the construction sector, although
agriculture and manufacturing recorded slight declines.
The ECCU recorded a surplus of $22 million at the end of March 2005 in its
fiscal operations, in contracts to a deficit of $18 million in the corresponding
period of 2004.
“This performance was attributed to the expansion in economic activity, improved
tax administration and the management of revenue enhancing and reducing measures
by some member governments,… I believe that the work of the Tax Commission has
assisted in our own heightened activity towards greater fiscal stabilization.”
Current revenue Prime Minister Douglas said stood at 7% above the total in the
1st quarter of 2005 with receipts from taxes on international trade and
transactions accounting for most of the increase, while current expenditure
decrease by 0.3% over last year. Capital expenditure rose 85% and capital grants
increased by 21% reflective of donor support post Hurricane Ivan recovery
efforts in Grenada
To facilitate development in accordance with it mandate, the ECCB’s Monetary
Council continues to pursue money and capital market expansion. Bank Governor
Sir Dwight Venner spoke of the Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar stability over the
past twenty-nine year which has stood at 2.71 to the United States (US) dollar.
Venner noted the increased use of the Regional Securities Market on the part of
governments was offering governments an auction platform to receive financial
assistance on reasonable terms. Equity firms are also welcome on the exchange
with two major regional institutions namely Grace Kennedy of Jamaica and 1st
Caribbean International Bank headquartered in Barbados, coming on board
recently. Sir Dwight said other non-OECS firms and institutions were also
showing keen interest in the securities exchange.
“I mention this to say that the ECSE in now emerging as the regional stock
exchange as envisaged by the founders of CARICOM many years ago. We know that
the Monetary Council and the Governments of the ECCU will do all in their
endeavours to ensure that legislation is passed to ensure that we do become the
supreme financial institution with respect to equities in this part of the
world,” noted Sir Dwight Venner.
In light of the impending implementation of the CSME Sir Dwight said OECS member
states need to dialogue further on ways of strengthening and deepening the
integration process of the region, in particular its monetary and financial