CLEARING THE AIR

anguillian
By anguillian June 15, 2015 08:51 Updated

 

 

There appears to be a growing crescendo of voices calling, demanding or even begging, for conclusive official information concerning the present state of affairs and future of Anguilla’s two indigenous banks. The truth is that, as a national newspaper, The Anguillian – used as a channel of communication by all and sundry, friend and foe, including persons who claim not to read it – thinks there is indeed a case for a formal release of the above information.

There seems to be three main sources which can provide that pertinent information: the Government of Anguilla, the British Government and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank – the latter having assumed “exclusive control” of the Caribbean Commercial Bank and the National Bank of Anguilla since August 12, 2013. What we have had since then were further extensions of the period of conservatorship and a promise of “a forensic audit report”. Unfortunately, we have had no comment from the British Government, and our former Chief Minister, Mr. Hubert Hughes, who, until recently was a member of the ECCB Monetary Council, and maintained, true or false, that he had no knowledge of what was going on.

This editorial is not questioning the ECCB’s conservatorship or investigative process of our banks as such, especially if there was a protective reason to do so. But there is now a crying need for Anguillians to know what will be the final structure, ownership and operation status of the two local banking institutions. A release of this type of information is particularly important at this time in the face of all sorts of flying rumours and conjecture across Anguilla, and even reverberating in the sub-region. For the Anguilla Government, the British Government and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank to remain reticent and uncommunicative on these matters, is to invite, and bear responsibility, for the kind of rumours, assumptions, confusion and probable propaganda being spread around.

The conservatorship of the Anguilla commercial banks was first announced in August 2013 by the Chairman of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Mr. Ralph Gonsalves, as well as other sub-regional leaders. It is particularly interesting to note today, when our banks are still in conservatorship that, as fate would have it, and due to the rotation process, it is now Anguilla’s turn for its newly-appointed Chief Minister, Mr. Victor Banks, to be the new Chairman of the Monetary Council. He will assume that responsibility on July 24, when the Council will meet in Anguilla. That, of course, does not mean that he can simply and automatically overturn the conservatorship, and nobody – even a person with the lowest intellectual reasoning – should think he can just do so. He may perhaps, though, be in a position to influence certain matters relating to Anguilla and the sub-region in general.
Two of those matters affecting Anguilla should be the release of any possible pertinent information being requested by the people of Anguilla about their banks, and the hastening of an acceptable Anguillian ownership and operation decision on the institutions. It may be a testing time for the very capable Chief Minister, and perhaps it may be somewhat embarrassing for him to preside over the Monetary Council as Chairman, while the ECCB has exclusive control of our banks, and not be in a position to do something about it. If there is ever an appropriate time when some concrete information should be divulged about our seized financial institutions, it should be at the Monetary Council’s meeting in Anguilla when Mr. Banks takes over the chairmanship of the Council. In fact, Anguillians are expecting it.

The time is indeed ripe to clear the air of mystery and doubt surrounding the CCB and NBA, and give Anguillians a reassuring hope for the return and local ownership of their banks. After all, the institutions are two of the accomplished symbols of the Anguilla Revolution and the pride, independent spirit and resilience of the Anguillian people.

anguillian
By anguillian June 15, 2015 08:51 Updated

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