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Privatization of NCB was always a policy, says PM Gonsalves

Privatization of NCB was always a policy, says PM Gonsalves

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The plan to privatize the National Commercial Bank was always a policy of previous government administrations.{{more}}

At the official opening of the Reigate Building last Sunday, November 13, where the now rebranded Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has established its headquarters, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves highlighted that two past prime ministers: Robert Milton Cato and Sir James Mitchell had plans to divest the shares of the bank when the financial atmosphere was right.

“When Milton Cato founded this bank, he said then, and at every opportunity he got to talk about the Bank and in his manifesto, his budget presentations, that he is awaiting proper consolidation of the Bank and then he will do privatization.

“That was the policy too of the NDP under Sir James, and his successors who articulated it, but at the moment of truth in 2010, when we were divesting, those who had hitherto been for something, decided that they weren’t any longer for it.

“Or, they sought to find differences akin to the choreographing of angels on the head of a pin.”

The Prime Minister indicated that prior to taking office in 2001, things did not look good for the then national institution.

“The records are there: the Bank of America had already slashed the corresponding relations with the National Commercial Bank…. The auditors gave a qualified report to the audited financial statements….

“….In 2002, a bank in Trinidad offered us five hundred thousand Eastern Caribbean Dollars for the whole bank….

“The data is there to show that in the ten years before divestment, we brought the assets from $395 million to 714 (million dollars), an increase of 81 per cent… and the shareholders’ equity increased by nearly 200 per cent.”

The Prime Minister lauded Cato for his decision establish the Bank, which he regarded as a ‘brave and heroic decision’, which led the way for the function that was taking place 34 years later.

“I was certainly pleased… this was a decision going against the grain of accepted political decision,” Dr. Gonsalves noted. (JJ)

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