By Dr Isaac Newton
Since its inception in July 5, 1983, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank
(ECCB) has used its resources impressively. It has met its obligation in
monitoring monetary policy and assisted governments in managing risks.
Today, the Bank continues to help finance ministers manage debt. It
still provides tools for governments to navigate capital markets. And it
pilots helpful public education and awareness programs.
In fact, the effectiveness of its community outreach initiatives is
credible. Above all, the Bank has protected the international value and
kept confidence in the EC Dollar pegged to the US dollar at a parity of
Despite the ECCB’s direct and indirect investments in the social success
of the sub-region, some view it as a refuge that conceals political
underdevelopment. Whereas the Bank has advocated for productive
investments behind closed doors, one has not yet heard its voice
condemning unproductive investments by regional governments with
short-term bread and butter needs.
Perhaps it is because the OECS has a high tolerance for quick solutions.
What’s even more worrisome is that we haven’t moved beyond our
addiction to a culture of dependency, which constitutes the very
foundation of our inability to advance ourselves.
At the 72nd meeting of Monetary Council held in February, leaders
committed to fresh insights and new pragmatics. These are likely to
unlock the financial bowels of our people to produce balanced growth.
As the Bank seeks to help the leaders overcome the shattering changes
confronting the union, here are five critical things it can do in these
• Provide immediate short-term financial help to various priority
sectors—agriculture, export, and small business to help them circumvent
the crisis. The Bank presence should be flexible to the economic growth
and political stability of the union.
• Reach out to the talent pool of the diasporas via long-distance or in
person consultancies, and invite our brightest and best minds to become
more engaged in regional advancement through sweat equity and exchange
of intellectual capital.
• Devise a comprehensive model for finding synergy with transnational
corporations. Assist governments to see beyond jobs creation to value
proposal. Help public official and entrepreneurs exploit sustained
industries that can be linked to tourism, research, green energy, and
financial services in order to harness national resources, and increase
revenue generation along the way.
• Inspire thought leaders and grassroots intelligentsias to delve into
the potency of our resources (brilliant people, food feeding land,
unexplored medically induced plant life, sun, sea, and natural beauty)
to make long-term investments that can create capital.
• Design internships for finance ministers to tease out the best
macroeconomic approach to sustainable development of the union, and
provide operational frameworks of accountability, transparency and
inclusiveness to identify the best talent required to achieve fiscal
flexibility and economic goals.
The only way to create new momentum is for the ECCB to take governments
and people on a development action plan. This requires a specific
process that will induce political will and collective energies, and it
will take personal meditation and institutional boldness to lead us to
Perhaps the answer to the logic of politics is in harnessing the logic
of economics. According to Winston Dookeran, former finance minister of
Trinidad and Tobago, power, politics and performance in the Caribbean is
about leaders finding durable solutions.
Dookeran argues that Small Island States can take advantage of a
knowledge based world, by drawing on effective regionalism, financial
structures and inspirational leadership.
I could see the ECCB focusing more on optimal development, on building
safer regional alignment, and on executing follow-though success in the
twenty-first century. Perhaps this undertaking will instill in each one
of us a mind-set to achieve greater things.
July 12, 2012