ECCB Banks to be Monitored, Closely-PM Browne

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Discussions have been held at the level of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank for financial institutions to report to their ministries of finances about their operations. So, says Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

He said on Saturday that he supports such a move, especially with the ongoing situation with Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank or ECAB.

The prime minister has been putting pressure on the directors of ECAB to allow the government to retain ordinary shares in the financial institution.

“This is a discussion we have had at the level of the ECCB. When you look at the fact that most of the banking assets are now concentrated in domestic hands, the ministry of finance now has to pay greater attention to getting these banks to report to us routinely. To make sure they are operating properly and to make sure requirements of guidelines as established by the ECCB are met,” Browne said.

He said the move is also geared at ensuring the need to move aggressively to resolve gaps and ensure there is no impairment of their capital ratios and “to ensure they keep now performing loans to a minimum. I don’t think we should sit back like previous administrations and only after the banks would have failed do we realize they were in trouble,” Browne said.

According to Browne who is also the finance minister, “these are confidential discussions we will hold with them and this is a discussion we have had at the level of the ECCB”.

Browne said another layer of interest will be created to supervise especially managers of the banks.

“We will be taking a greater interest in literally creating another layer of interest and possible supervision to hold these managers accountable. I find that managers and directors love to suit up and do no work. If they don’t perform, I will come publicly and call for their removal,” he said.

ECAB is currently one of the largest indigenous banks in Antigua and Barbuda, and the government has 25 percent preferential ownership, which gives it the first claim on the distribution of profits but restricts it to voting only on resolutions that directly affect its rights.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Now this is a problem. If Governments have direct supervision of Managers then pleasing the local politicians will become a priority for managers rather than doing what is in the best interest of the banks. Craig Walter is not presently beholden to Gaston and is acting in the best interest of the bank. Imagine if Gaston had the power to remove him? We do not need bank directors and managers worrying about what politicians think or want for fear of a vengeful politician removing them from their job. Why is Gaston so obsessed with the banks?

    • The bank belongs to the shareholders. Of which one is the government of Antigua and Barbuda holding the shares on behalf of the people of this country. Maybe one day when you drop your political lenses you will see yourself as a co-shareholder.

  2. Why is Gaston Browne the only finance minister in the Eastern Caribbean to reveal this information and the ECCB has not issued any such information. Until we hear this collaboration by all countries under the Central Bank, Gaston your smoke is blowing west.

  3. PM Gaston Browne. Where is the push to get Statutory Companies to report and publish their financial statements to the parliament and the director of audit? Can you point me in the direction of APUA financial statements? They don’t exist publicly, despite the P in APUA standing for PUBLIC. We own them, they are accountable to the people!

    • Those are issues enshrined in the Finance and Administration Act and are the responsibility of the Financial Secretary Mr. Withfield. He should start doing his job and put pressure on the accountants in these organizations.

  4. Well knock me down with a feather!

    Not even a week ago I said that Gaston “Gassy” Browne would try to make political capital from the issues with the banks and the banking system.

    Because it’s all he’s got at present …

    IS THE PM SO PREDICTABLE OR AM I A PROPHET?

  5. Bully Gaston, I think you are overreaching. Why don’t you do what you were elected to do and let the bank managers do their job. You want to control everything that smells money. ECAB should not convert no Pf shares but redeem them and get rid of you. Let the ECCB tell us directly what discussions they had with you and other OECS countries. Or this only applies to Antigua?Antiguans need to get rid of you the next election. You are nothing but an embarrassment.

  6. It never ceases to amaze me. Gaston Browne always wants to be all up into the Banks business. You as a Public Figure and Prime Minister assets are hidden. The ASSETS owned by the people of Antigua and Barbuda are not known to this day. When are those Statutory Corporations owned by the People books are going to opened for all to see. Open up the books for NYAMCO.Who are the owners of that property at Hodges Bay.Is it owned by you and or your in law. To the Management Team at ECAB.KEEP THAT “RATTA” AWAY FROM OUR CHEESE.He would nibble and one day it would all vanished into thin air. I as a depositor do not wish for this man to have not one damn say as to how this Bank,ECAB operates.

  7. Is anyone following up on the pope? Remember the pope is calling back for all funds to return back to the vatican, so pay close attention to what Gassy is doing?

  8. Real smart.
    Antigua in international news for an investor in off shore bank unable to withdraw his own money.

    Stanford Scandal.
    Failed ABIB.

    Now PM/Govt. get in local banks business and wants to direct their commercial entity.

    Just brilliant ways to build trust and grow our financial sector.

    Remember the run on Bank of Antigua?

    With this kinda talk from the PM maybe we’ll see that again.

    I hope Mr. Antoine at ECCB not entertaining this dictatorial sounding nonsense.

  9. He said the move is also geared at ensuring the need to move aggressively to resolve gaps and ensure there is no impairment of their capital ratios and “to ensure they keep now performing loans to a minimum.

    Dear editor. It is NONE Performing Loans and not ‘Now Performing Loans’.

    • Nice try @ From The Sideline, but I think that you are intelligent enough to understand that political interference from ANY government can undermine our banking system and cause potential investors/investments to go elsewhere.

      TRY TAKING YOUR ABLP BLINDFOLD OFF AT TIMES …

  10. If Lovell had done his work as Finance Minister, he would not have let the ABI Bank debacle continue for such a long time and got to the point of collapsing the entire banking sector not only in Antigua but the entire currency Union. People don’t seem to have a problem that the government had to use $300 million of Taxpayers’ monies to save the monies from each depositor. Well, that money could be used to give us better roads or healthcare or education for that matter. Or pay the Social Security debt.

    • What will it take for you to critique the ABLP and Gaston Browne?

      Even I was an ardent supporter until I realised his rhetoric didn’t match his actions for Antigua.

      IS THERE ANYTHING THAT HE HAS DONE WRONG TO THE COUNTRY IN YOUR EYES?

      • If you had read and followed my many comments over the years you would have seen were if differ with the position of the Gaston Browne administration. I have time and time again told you, I support Gaston for the most part on his financial and economic policies. I you know just this morning Daren had an economist talking about why Antigua should or should not go to the IMF. And the guys said, he is in favor of the Gaston Browne method of growing the Economy to get out of the debt to GDP burden rather than to borrow more money from the IMF and cut all sorts of spending. Especially on Social Program. It shows Lovell cannot think outside the box. He thinks his save and grace would be the IMF monies. Rather than to grow the economy. But as people we go into IMF programs know they come with conditions. And that may well be the end of many social programs and passing through of all the cost for the production of RO Plant water. Why do you think things like the price of Gas Bottle went up so drastically under the UPP time in office. IMF told them to discontinue the subsidy. Why do you think they had to introduce Income Tax? IMF told them people need to start paying their share of taxes. So, you see IMF money is cheap, but it comes with conditions. And they monitor to see if you follow their program. Or else you will not get a dime any further.

  11. From the Sideline
    What was Antigua and Barbuda outstanding debts, and secondly what was the outstanding arrears when UPP took office..
    What were they when Gaston Browne became PM?
    How many billion $ in loans did Gaston Browne government took out and how many.
    FTS, Ah weh the money gone?

  12. With all the amounts owed by the labour government, the country has to be bankrupt. Who is going to lend them more money? Maybe this is why Gaston wants to control the banks so he can borrow money at will. He will then control the treasury, the people’s lands and their deposits in the banks. All the people’s assets. What can go so?

    • No, it was not the final nail. Over Lending to government is what put the bank in a position of illiquidity. Because the government did not keep their promise of repaying the short-term loans. They then transferred the short-term loans to long-term loans. All that did was window dress the government accounts for the IMF. But the bank needed cash in order to survive. And since Harold had no clue how to solve this issue in the early stages, the ECCB had to keep funding the bank on behalf of the government and the stability of the entire banking sector. ABIB ran into a liquidity problem. Not a performance problem. They lost monies in several overseas ventures in Haiti and Turks and Caicos and that compounded the situation. Harold should have done what Gaston did and borrowed the money and put it in as Equity. That would have saved the bank and made the government a major shareholder of the bank. Gaston solved that issue by transferring the good loans to ECAB together with some corresponding deposits. I hope that the government will eventually get paid back, because of their increased shareholding in dividends. And that is what the PM is fighting for. Repayment of the $300 million that was put in by the taxpayers to solve the ABIB debacle, of which ECAB is the only beneficiary.

    • You think I’m here to keep repeating myself for you. Just like I can find certain information by either google or the various websites such as World Bank, IMF, ECCB or CDB you can do your own homework. Guess you are too damn lazy.

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