BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 19th, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – Mr. Timothy Antoine, who in February took the helm of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), met with Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris and Cabinet members yesterday, April 18th. The meeting was the first one in a series that will be held between the Cabinet and the new Central Bank Governor.
Governor Antoine told the Cabinet members that his meeting with them was the first leg of a road show he is embarking on throughout the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
The Central Bank Governor said that, in St. Kitts and Nevis, “I am going to be meeting with the Leader of Opposition, the Chamber of Industry & Commerce, and the social partners – the media, churches, etc.”
Governor Antoine’s presentation to Cabinet focused on the fiscal health of St. Kitts and Nevis in relation to the ECCU.
So how is the eight-member ECCU doing (and St. Kitts and Nevis specifically), with respect to the ECCB’s three key targets: Financial Stability, Fiscal and Debt Sustainability, and Growth and Competitiveness?
The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis outshines other ECCU member countries
According to the Governor’s PowerPoint presentation, the key target pertaining to financial stability is having well-capitalized banks with a Currency Adequacy Ratio of at least 10%. CAR – capital to risk-weighted assets ratio – is a key measure that assesses a bank’s financial strength and risk of insolvency. The Governor disclosed that, as at December 2015, the CAR for banks in St. Kitts and Nevis averaged 22.46% compared to 14.8% for banks in the ECCU as a whole.
Growth in private sector credit rose to 3.17% in St. Kitts and Nevis, but registered a decline of 6.1% throughout the ECCU last year. “This probably explains partly why you are the fastest growing country in the OECS,” Mr. Antoine said.
The ECCB Governor added, “We are concerned as a Currency Union. We want to see private sector credit turn positive for the Currency Union. Until such time, we would be hesitant to say that we have fully turned the corner because, yes, the growth is up but you are not seeing enough private sector credit expansion. That is an important metric, so at every ECCB Monetary Council meeting we are going to be reporting on this.”
GDP growth as at December 2015 in St. Kitts and Nevis was 6.64% compared to 2.62% in the ECCU. The ECCB target for GDP growth is 5%.