“May the God of hope, fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit” ~ Romans 15.13, NIV
Fellow citizens, residents and friends of the ECCU, season’s greetings!
Indeed, it is Christmas, and for many, the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is a unique celebration of faith, family, love and hope. Our ECCB family is truly grateful to God for His amazing grace and goodness in this the second year of the pandemic. I extend my heartfelt condolences to those who lost loved ones to COVID-19 or otherwise, this past year. I know their loss will be especially felt this Christmas. Ongoing Covid-19 protocols mean many of us will not be able to enjoy all the festivities associated with the season but it is encouraging to know, that on account of our progress with vaccination, more families will be able to travel and physically reconnect, a very welcomed development.
As we reflect on the year soon ending, there are several achievements, here at the ECCB, for which we should be justifiably proud. I briefly mention three:
1. First, our continued collaboration with banks and other financial institutions to deliver the much needed and appreciated loan repayment deferral programme. Although some loans have graduated or have now been restructured, there are still about 6,000 loans valued at $1.2 billion benefitting from this programme.
2. Second, our provision of $1.0 million to ensure the timely rollout of vaccination programmes in our member countries.
3. Third, the launch of our award-winning digital currency, DCash, thereby becoming the first currency union in the world to launch a digital currency. DCash is now available in seven of our eight member countries. We anticipate onboarding Anguilla in early 2022.
Amidst all the uncertainty presented by the pandemic, our Currency Union is projected to have grown by about 1.0 per cent following a contraction of 17.0 per cent in 2020. We are grateful that our fair isles where spared the ravages of monster storms but are mindful of the devastation wrought by the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the criticality of additional resources as the country builds back. We urge those who pledged, to make good on their commitments and encourage others to step forward. As we prepare to enter the third year of the pandemic with no immediate end in sight, I hail the tireless work of our frontline warriors in healthcare (including laboratory testing personnel) as well as security, border control and other essential workers including the media. I thank all those who have stepped forward to be vaccinated and encourage those who have not yet done so, to do so. Let us all do our part to save lives and restore livelihoods. Looking ahead, we currently project the ECCU will grow by about 7.0 per cent next year, as the recovery of Tourism, our dominant export, gathers momentum. The ECCB will publish revised estimates at the end of January 2022. Our Central Bank will continue to implement the Programme of Action for Recovery, Resilience and Rransformation. Key actions include boosting food and nutrition security; access to credit for small businesses; accelerating digital transformation, strengthening cybersecurity and enhancing climate resilience.
In conclusion, we at the ECCB count it a privilege to serve the people of the ECCU. We are grateful for all our partnerships and thankful for all your prayers.May we be imbued with a sense of hope as we celebrate Jesus Christ, the Hope of all Nations. May we continue to band together as we forge our way through and out of this pandemic. May we continue to stand together as we pursue our transformation agenda. So, from my family and me, to you: Monetary Council, Board, management, staff, retirees; local, regional and international partners; and citizens, residents and friends of the ECCU:
May 2022 be a safer and more prosperous year for you!
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