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.