“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV)
Fellow citizens and residents of the ECCU, season’s greetings.
The year 2020 is rapidly coming to an end. We are celebrating what is, for many, the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is a unique celebration of faith, family, love and hope.
That said, I am mindful that many of our brothers and sisters in this region and around the world have found the past nine months, a most wretched time of existence. I extend my heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved ones and livelihoods to COVID-19 or otherwise.
For some, 2020 is year that they would wish to forget but cannot forget.
Our ECCB family is truly grateful to God for His sustaining grace and for what we have achieved despite and because of the pandemic.
Undoubtedly, the Coronavirus pandemic has posed tremendous challenges. It came bearing fruits – many, of which, are unpleasant and unwanted. But it has also compelled the accelerated use of digital technologies and the opportunity, for some of us, to spend more with time with our immediate families. The stories of human kindness, things learned, and reforms implemented, in record time, are rich and rewarding.
Here at the ECCB, there are many achievements for which we can be justifiably proud. I now make mention of the following:
- Our relief measures which included a $4 million grant to our member countries; a loan deferral programme in collaboration with the ECCU Bankers’ Association; and our lowering of the discount rate to 2 per cent from 6.5 per cent (first rate change in 17 years).
- The crafting of a 3-year Programme of Action for Recovery, Resilience and Transformation.
- Our EC dollar remains very strong. Its current backing in foreign reserves is 97 percent.
- The ECCB recorded its highest profit ever - $63.1 million
- Our Bank completed the second phase of our Campus Greening Project. As a consequence, 60% of electricity consumed is now generated from Solar PV. These investments helped save more than $1 million, this year.
- Our shift to teleworking mode has allowed us to help keep our staff safe while continuing to serve our region well.
Our Currency Union is experiencing its largest shock, on record, with a projected decline of 16.2 per cent this year. Our governments continue to grapple with significantly lower revenues while simultaneously expending considerable sums on COVID-19 response measures. Evidently, this moment calls for shared sacrifice by all stakeholders as we navigate this difficult passage together.
Despite the economic and financial fallout occasioned by the pandemic, our countries have responded relatively well and our region is thankful that we have only experienced a small number of deaths. Additionally, we are grateful to have been spared the ravages of major hurricanes. Once again, we place on record, our profound gratitude to all our frontline warriors in healthcare together with security, border control and essential workers including the media.
Looking ahead, we project the ECCU will grow by 5 per cent next year, as Tourism, our dominant export, slowly recovers.
The ECCB will implement the Programme of Action for Recovery, Resilience and Transformation approved by the Monetary Council in October. Key actions include:
- Boosting food and nutrition security
- Increasing our use of renewable energy
- Accelerating digital transformation
- The ECCB will also unveil its new 5-year strategic plan.
In conclusion, we at the ECCB count it our distinct privilege to serve the people of the ECCU.
We are thankful for all our partnerships and for your prayers throughout this difficult year.
For many of us what undergirds our resilience is our faith. Let us then continue to draw on our faith fortified in the knowledge of Immanuel – God with us!
So, from my family and me, to you:
Monetary Council, Board, management, staff, retirees; local, regional and international partners; and citizens and residents of the ECCU:
Here’s wishing you a Joyous Christmas!
May 2021 be a safer, brighter and more prosperous for you.