As the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) celebrates its 40th anniversary, ECCB Governor Timothy N.J. Antoine highlighted some major undertakings by the sub-regional agency and ‘hard-won gains’.
Antoine described both the Bank’s 40th anniversary milestone and its accomplishments as “especially gratifying because the past 40 years have been anything but smooth sailing.”
Speaking on January 19 at the launch of the 40th Anniversary Celebrations in the Sir Cecil Jacobs Auditorium at the ECCB Headquarters, Governor Antoine pointed out that, “We have endured external economic shocks, hurricanes, volcanoes, recessions and, mostly recently, a pandemic. But here we are, still standing.”
The ECCB Governor said that, 40 years on: “Our foreign reserves have grown from under EC$150 million to over EC$5 billion; bank deposits have risen from EC$1 billion to over EC$24 billion, and our staff complement has increased from 55 to 272 with representation from every member country.”
Governor Antoine continued: “This evening, I confirm that our EC dollar remains strong with a foreign reserves backing of 91 percent.”
On 7 July 1976, the EC Dollar became pegged to the US Dollar at a fixed rate of EC$2.70 to US$1.00 during the existence of the ECCB’s predecessor, the East Caribbean Currency Authority (ECCA), which was headquartered in St. Kitts from 20 May 1975 after Barbados withdrew from the ECCA to establish its own central bank.
On 5 July 1983, seven Eastern Caribbean Governments signed the Agreement establishing the ECCB and it was put into force on 1 October 1983, operating out of the former ECCA Headquarters before opening in its present location on 29 October 1994.
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank is the Monetary Authority for a population of more than 600,000 people spanning six sovereign states: Antigua and Barbuda, The Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and two overseas territories of the United Kingdom: Anguilla and Montserrat.
“Over the past five years, the ECCB has received five global awards, all recognition of our initiatives and innovations as we continue to build on the rich legacy of our framers and founders,” Governor Antoine said at the launch.
In 2022, the ECCB received the Central Banking Green Initiative Award for installing its solar canopy project at the Bank’s headquarters and significantly reducing its carbon footprint, and the Best New Banknote Series Award from Reconnaissance International. In 2021, the ECCB received the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Infrastructure Award at the FinTech & RegTech Global Awards hosted by Central Banking.
Also, in 2018, Governor Antoine was named Central Bank Governor of the Year for the Caribbean by GlobalMarkets. In 2017, the ECCB was awarded at the World Institute for Action Learning (WIAL) Global Conference.
“It is said, in challenge, there is opportunity,” the ECCB Governor noted in his thought-provoking retrospective, while adding: “Look at us now! The ECCU is one of the strongest monetary unions in the world.”