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ECCB Bill gets unanimous support in House of Assembly

ECCB Bill gets unanimous support in House of Assembly
Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance.

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THE FIRST of a suite of legislation related to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) was successfully passed in the Parliament of St Vincent and the Grenadines this month with no opposition.

Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves, tabled the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (Amendment) Bill on March 16 in the House of Assembly, where he noted that this country had fallen behind in making the Bank’s push to have a series of standardised legislation ushered into law among all members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).

“There’s actually a substantial body of small amendments here and there that we have to pass or that we have undertaken to pass in the next couple sittings. I didn’t want to bring a deluge of housekeeping amendments in this session Madam speaker, for fear that I be accused of trying to hide something devilish in an entire flood of amendments but really, we’re just trying to get up to speed,” Gonsalves said.

The Finance Minister said there was a single clause that was inserted into the Act; “in the event of any inconsistency in the provisions of this act – that’s the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Act – and the operation of any other enactment, the provision of this act shall prevail to the extent of the inconsistency”.

He explained that the insertion was a fairly common clause placed in these types of legislation and assured that there was nothing sinister about it, but rather, a recommendation from drafters and consultants at the ECCB level to ensure the efficacious operation of the controlling Act. St Clair Leacock, the parliamentary representative for Central Kingstown rose in Parliament on March 16 to make his contribution to the debate on the amendment.

The opposition parliamentarian informed the House that there were no objections

to the “short but important piece of legislation” from his side of the House.

Leacock’s time on the parliamentary floor was spent sharing educational information on the workings of the ECCB and members of the ECCU.

The member countries of the ECCU are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Leacock said that the total population of the currency union is approximately 628 thousand. According to 2016 data, these member countries have a combined gross domestic product of about $18.4 billion, and an average per capita income of $29,372. “This Central Bank discussion impacts us very, very directly in the changing face and financial architecture in our nation states, as credit unions move to become banks, as commercial business houses move between becoming banks or loan sharks – all sorts of craziness is happening,” he said.

The parliamentarian added that one must continue to be mindful of the architecture and how these things can be regulated in an effort to protect the country for future generations.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, also made a similar educational contribution on the institution when he rose in Parliament to speak on the bill.

Other legislation related to the ECCB is expected to be passed on April 29 at the next sitting of the SVG Parliament.