CASTRIES, St Lucia -- The newly appointed chairman of the Eastern Caribbean Monetary Council and prime minister of Saint Lucia, Dr Kenny Anthony, has expressed confidence in the management of the region's fiscal space and the banking system but he says there are some major adjustments that are necessary.
Despite the lingering effects of sluggish growth in the global economy, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) continues to perform credibly by maintaining adequate foreign reserves and a stable EC dollar, pegged at an exchange rate of US$1 to EC$2.70.
Dr Kenny Anthony
In his inaugural speech as chairman on Wednesday, the Saint Lucian leader told his regional counterparts that the Central Bank will continue to address the main policy issues which confront member countries namely; financial stability, fiscal and debt sustainability and growth and competitiveness.
“The bank will continue to take a proactive approach to addressing vulnerability in the financial system and will accelerate the implementation of the strategy for strengthening the resilience of the financial sector, where instability and danger lurks especially in the face of un-wise and imprudent corporate behavior. We will not hesitate to act to protect investors and the stability of our shared financial space,” he said.
Cognizant of an extreme high level of non-performing loans in various ECCB member territories, Anthony said the case for integrating the region's indigenous banking sector is now more compelling.
Anthony said that, while it has been a difficult period for banks and their customers, the problems may be resolved through a review and upgrade of the archaic and obsolete banking legislation that the region inherited from Quebec, Canada.
“I welcome the decision of the Monetary Council to unify the legislation governing the realisation of mortgage collateral across member states through consultation, through member countries. While this is a necessary and sound initiative it is essential that such legislation provide adequate protection to borrowers. It cannot be right for example that a borrower who have paid fifteen or more years of a twenty-year mortgage is dispossessed of a home because of sudden financial difficulties not of his or her making,” he said.
Anthony also pledged to work with all interests to advance and execute the mandate of the Monetary Council efficiently.