Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is back for another one-year stint as Chairman of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) which is rotated annually among the respective Ministers of Finance in the member states.
Dr. Mitchell is taking over from the outgoing Chairman, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica.
The official ceremony to mark the change in Chairmanship was held at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort in the presence of Governor of the ECCB, Timothy Antoine, Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade, and participating representatives from the ECCU member countries – Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Monetary Council is the highest decision-making authority of the ECCB, which comprises of eight ministers of finance from each of the participating countries.
In his speech as incoming Chairman of the ECCB Monetary Council, Prime Minister Mitchell announced that he would concentrate on the threat of de-risking and money laundering.
He said: “Dealing with the Threat of De-risking Brothers and Sisters, the potential loss of correspondent banking relations continues to pose a serious threat and we must remain vigilant and relentless in our efforts to combat this existential threat.
“In July 2016, our Monetary Council took the important decision to have the ECCB assume responsibility for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) supervision of entities licensed under the Banking Act.
“Our banks as well as the international community including correspondent banks, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the IMF, have welcomed this decision. We urge countries that have not yet passed the amendments to facilitate this decision to do so in the shortest possible time.
Prime Minister Mitchell also stressed the need for the ECCU to intensify its efforts to adopt common standards for countries involved in the passport-selling scheme known as Citizenship by Investment (CBI).
“These efforts ought to be intensified given the importance of these programmes for economic development and financial stability.
Addressing Bank Fees and Charges, Brothers and sisters, the matter of high bank fees and charges is one that concerns our citizens and in fact, all members of the Monetary Council”, he said.“That said, we also understand that banks are facing rising compliance costs because of various international requirements for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism. We call on all banks and the ECCU Bankers Association to become more proactive in informing customers of these developments and helping them access no-cost or low-cost options, wherever possible”, he added.
ECCB Governor, Timothy Antoine is optimism about the ECCU in the coming years.
In his address, Antoine said: “Our shared vision of transforming the ECCU as articulated in our strategic plan is fundamental in our shared prosperity…and so it’s about shared prosperity for all who work and live in the ECCU. To that end we must take care of our business, unfinished and well as new and emerging. As Governor, I feel the sense of strong urgency…today I feel proud, the commitment of all, the management and staff of the ECCU…as together we transform the ECCU for the good of the people that we serve; working together, governments, social partners, development partners and our people and by the grace of almighty God, we shall (achieve)”.