CARICOM Secretary-General Identifies Challenges For Caribbean Bankers

GREATER GEORGETOWN, Guyana – CARICOM Secretary-General His Excellency Edwin Carrington has outlined six of the major challenges facing the indigenous banking industry in the Caribbean.

Speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the 34th Annual General meeting and Conference of the Caribbean Association of Indigenous Banks (CAIB) at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel, in Georgetown, Guyana on Monday night, the Secretary-General said that the infant association of the early 1970s had matured into an adult and now was the appropriate time to reflect on the challenges which the CAIB and its members faced.

He pointed out to his audience, which included the President of Guyana, His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo, who delivered the feature address, and Prime Minister of Guyana the Honourable Samuel Hinds, that some of the Region’s indigenous banks had gone cross-border and graduated into genuine Pan-Caribbean entities, and “one or two” had commercial presence outside the of the Region.

The Secretary-General identified the six challenges as: the need to ensure that the banks contribute in significant measure to the economic development of the Region; the rather high interest rates on commercial bank loans with the concomitant possibility of an adverse effect on economic activity; the requirement under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) for the harmonisation of policies relating to interest rates; the need for the banks to take greater advantage of the opportunities under the CSME; a greater degree of competitiveness in the context of increasing liberalisation; and the ability to absorb external shocks and impositions without them leading to too great an administrative burden or adverse impact on operational costs.

Mr Carrington called on the members of the CAIB to play an active role in the development of the CSME, especially with regard to the monetary co-operation aspects of the Singe Economy.

“It will be worth your while, and in the interest of the Caribbean Community which you serve, to consider how you, as bankers, can help to deliver some of the benefits of the Single Market and Economy to the people of the Region,” he said.

The three-day conference ends on Thursday, November 15.

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