ECCB CONCERNED ABOUT FISCAL POSITION OF SUB-REGION

The content originally appeared on: The Anguillian Newspaper

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has concerns about the economic resilience of its member states’ economies following the devastating effects of the recent hurricanes and the current pandemic.

Minister of Finance, Dr. Ellis Webster, observed that the ECCB had looked at the impact of recent disasters on tourism industries in the sub-region, and noted concerns regarding the long-lasting implications for the sub-region’s economic resilience.

At a recent policy meeting, the ECCB identified areas of need throughout the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and developed means of mitigating some of the negative challenges facing the sub-region.

Speaking at the Government’s press conference on Monday, January 24, 2022, Dr. Webster noted that legislative amendments would have to be made in order to allow the bank to be able to assist its member states. Currently, several monetary initiatives, such as the Renewable Energy Fund and the Digital Transformation Fund are planned for member states. If Anguilla wants to participate in that economic resilience package, it would have to be approved by the United Kingdom Government (UKG), seeing that it has exceeded its borrowing guidelines.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Dr. Webster noted that the government of Anguilla ended the 2021 calendar year with a small surplus. Some of those funds, EC$2.7 million, were used to pay half of the deferred salaries of public servants.

Dr. Webster also expressed confidence in the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to successfully undertake the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by July 1, 2022.

He noted: “Unlike the single island-wide member, I have a lot more confidence in our public service and the IRD. They are engaged with the company that designed the programme and are currently involved in [its] implementation plan.

“The company is engaging with businesses to go over the [logistics] of the GST – what it will entail, what type of equipment they will need to be ready – and, by July 1, 2022, businesses will know who falls into the category of being above the EC$300,000 threshold, and will start registering so that by July 1st they will be ready to start.”