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Caribbean Needs United Voice On Banking, Says Antigua

by Mike Godfrey, Lowtax.net, Washington
03 March, 2015

Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister has called on members of the Caribbean Community to work together to promote the reputation of the Caribbean banking and financial services sectors internationally.

Speaking at a CARICOM event, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, warned stakeholders of "potentially devastating threats" to the Caribbean's banking sector because of perceptions that investing in Caribbean financial services is more risky. He said that international banks are cutting ties with the Caribbean because of what he termed "an arbitrary and unsubstantiated claim… that the Caribbean is a high risk area for financial services".

Browne said that unless the situation is addressed with urgency, the financial services industry in every Caribbean country will be "forced to close their banking doors," not because of any inherent difficulties in the banks themselves, but because they are constrained from securing overseas business.

"I need hardly say that the impact of such a development on our economies would be calamitous. I venture to suggest that our Community should waste no time in jointly addressing this problem," he said.

Browne called on the CARICOM Heads of Government to establish a Committee of Finance Ministers to work with the Caribbean Association of Banks to develop a plan to deal with this matter, including making representations to the World Bank, the United Nations, and the International Monetary Fund.

Browne said: "It is time that we raise our voices and not meekly accept the continuing emasculation of our financial services, particularly after we have spent millions of dollars on making our jurisdictions compliant with every demand that has been made of us."

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