Only 4% of nationals in Antigua and Barbuda have invested in the purchase of stocks and bonds, while personal savings exceed $2 Billion.
That observation from Timothy Antoine, the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, who said this is a matter for grave concern
Antoine met with the Cabinet this week, declaring that there should be an increase in persons investing in financial instruments [the purchase of bonds, stocks, etc] to generate wealth in the country.
“He didn’t say to withdraw your money from the bank but what he did say is that we may have to increase the number of persons holding these financial instruments because it’s the way wealth is built and passed on from generation to generation,” said Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister Lionel Hurst
“More Antiguans and Barbudans need to invest in financial instruments than is now taking place. He noted that inflation is declining; in the United States; the latest figures show inflation at 4%. Antigua and Barbuda imports inflation which tracks the rate in the United States, such that inflation stands at about 5%.”
He said Antoine suggested that residents and especially the government find ways to invest in financial instruments.
“60% of adults in the US have invested in financial instruments whether it be commercial paper issued by private cooperation or government bonds that can be easily purchased at the Post Office.
Hurst recalls that the government divested itself of 10% shares in the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) about a year ago, to give Antiguans and Barbudans an opportunity to own some stock that will generate more than a bank account possible could.
“That is because the West Indies Oil Company is a profitable firm and it has a virtual monology on the importation and sale of certain products that we require,” Hurst said at the weekly Cabinet press conference
Another factor at play is the fact that there are very few Antiguan and Barbudan companies on the Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange.
The government is now planning to place NAMCO on the stock exchange.
Meanwhile, discussions were also held on the economic performance of the ECCU region, to make projections and recommendations for strengthening the state’s and the region’s economic performance.
Hurst said Antoine declared that resilience is the watchword that all the member countries must adopt, using Antigua and Barbuda’s health system as a yardstick, recognizing that it has strengthened significantly in the post-Covid era.
“There are now more nurses and doctors, medical personnel, hospital beds, poly-clinics, and other health infrastructure available than before the pandemic,” Hurst explained
The Governor also noted that Antigua and Barbuda’s gross domestic product (GDP) stands at $5 billion EC dollars.
“What, he asked, would it take to double the size of the economy? What would it take to double income in Antigua and Barbuda?”
Nevertheless, the National Debt-to-GDP-ratio has been declining the acceptable ratio is 60%.