Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) – The Journey
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has been diligently fulfilling its mission of “Advancing the good of the people of the Currency Union” by maintaining monetary and financial stability and promoting growth and development.
The ECCB is the Monetary Authority for a population of more than 600,000 people spanning six sovereign states: Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and two overseas territories of the United Kingdom: Anguilla and Montserrat.
The EC Dollar
On 1 October 1983, the East Caribbean Currency Authority (ECCA) was upgraded to a Central Bank – the ECCB.
The ECCB’s predecessor, ECCA, had been established in 1965 to issue and manage EC currency. Prior to the existence of the EC Currency, British Caribbean notes and coins constituted the currency in circulation. These were issued by the British Caribbean Currency Board (BCCB), which was established in 1950 as the regional authority with the sole power to issue currency for its member countries: Barbados, British Guyana, The Leeward Islands, The Windward Islands and Trinidad and Tobago.
After Trinidad and Tobago and British Guyana obtained their political independence from the United Kingdom, these two countries elected to withdraw from the British Caribbean Currency Board to establish their respective central banks.
Their withdrawal led to the dissolution of the BCCB and the establishment of the East Caribbean Currency Authority (ECCA) in 1965 as the authority to issue and manage a common currency for Barbados, and the Leeward and Windward islands with the exception of Grenada. Grenada became a member of the ECCA in 1968. In 1974, Barbados withdrew its membership from the East Caribbean Currency Authority to establish its own central bank.
From October 1965 to July 1976 the EC Currency was pegged to the pound sterling at a rate of EC$4.80 to £1.00. In July 1976, the peg was transferred to the US dollar at a parity of EC$2.70 to US$1.00.
Establishment of the Bank
On 5 July 1983, seven Governments (Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) signed the Agreement establishing the ECCB as the monetary authority. Anguilla eventually signed on as a full member on 1 April 1987. On 1 October 1983, the ECCB was officially commissioned and operated out of the former ECCA Headquarters. Three months later, the first meeting of the Monetary Council established in accordance with Article 7 of the ECCB Agreement, was held on 20 January 1984.
The first ECCB Agency Office was established in Grenada on 1 November 1984, paving the way for the expansion of the ECCB’s footprint to all its member countries.
On 1 October 1987, the ECCB Agency Office in Saint Lucia was established, followed by one in the Commonwealth of Dominica on 1 November 1989 and one in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on 1 April 1990, with the remaining ECCB Agency Offices opening up the next year: Montserrat on 4 March 1991 then Anguilla on 23 May and Antigua and Barbuda on 15 June 1991.
On 21 November 1992, a ceremony was held to break ground for the construction of the new ECCB Headquarters at Bird Rock, St Kitts. The Bank moved into its new headquarters in August 1994 and it was officially opened on 29 October that year.
Sir Cecil Jacobs, who was then the first Governor of the ECCB, led an initial staff of 55 persons. He was ably assisted by Sir Errol Allen, a Vincentian, who served as Deputy Governor until his retirement on 31 March 2005. Sir Cecil Jacobs retired in September 1989 and Sir K Dwight Venner, a Vincentian, became Governor of the ECCB from 1 December 1989 and served until his retirement in November 2015. The present Governor, Timothy N. J. Antoine, a Grenadian, assumed the role on 1 February 2016.
Governor Antoine is adeptly supported by the institution’s first female Deputy Governor, Dr Valda F. Henry, a national of the Commonwealth of Dominica. Dr Henry succeeded Trevor Brathwaite of Saint Lucia, who served as the second Deputy Governor from 2006 to 2021.