Timothy Antoine, the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Timothy Antoine has said that the spike in global inflation has placed member governments under renewed fiscal pressure.
And he says the region must take urgent collective action to address issues such as crime, food, and nutrition security, air connectivity, human capital formation, and digital transformation.
Antoine while the region continues to grapple with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the war in Ukraine.
In his 2022 Christmas message, the ECCB Governor says even as the region navigates the lingering effects of the pandemic, it is confronting high and stubborn inflation that is decimating the income of most vulnerable households and businesses.
He says this inflation spike has also placed ECCU member governments under renewed fiscal pressure as the public finances were starting to recover.
“That said, our EC dollar remains strong and our region continued its recovery from the pandemic with growth of about 6 percent. This performance would have been even better were it not for our current challenges with regional air connectivity.”
The ECCB Governor notes several countries suffered from natural disaster events but the region is grateful to have been spared the direct impact of major hurricanes.
Looking ahead, the ECCB Governor says the year 2023 will be a milestone year for the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. The ECCB will launch its year-long celebration in January.
In terms of economic prospects, the ECCB projects the ECCU will grow by between 3 and 6 per cent. This range reflects the uncertain economic environment which carries significant downside risks.
The growth performance will be influenced by geopolitical factors and the extent to which major central banks especially the US central bank (The Federal Reserve) could reduce inflation while avoiding or minimising a recession.
The ECCB says it will assiduously pursue its Resilience and Transformation Agenda which includes:
- Fairer treatment of customers by financial institutions through a new market conduct framework;
- Faster progress on renewable energy to enhance energy security, lower emissions and reduce energy costs;
- More progress on the greening of our financial system to respond to the climate crisis and preserve financial stability; and
- Payments modernisation as part of a broader effort to build out a digital economy for shared prosperity.