BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, July 23, 2021 (Press Office in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, today (Friday, July 23) wrapped up an eventful tenure as Chair of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), highlighted by the sub-region’s efforts to maintain fiscal stability and safeguard lives in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“One year ago, I assumed the chairmanship of the Monetary Council during a virtual ceremony made necessary on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time our region and our economies were fighting the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. With regret, the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us. As many countries are finding, we must now adjust ourselves to live with COVID-19 for some time to come,” said Prime Minister Harris during a ceremony to mark the handing over of the Chair of the Monetary Council.
Dr. Harris said while the pandemic prevented them from hosting in-person meetings, it in no way stopped the work of the Monetary Council to deliver strong monetary policies and real financial relief in hard times for the people in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
“When I assumed the Chairmanship of the Monetary Council in July last year, the health and well-being of our people and our economies were the top priorities of the Monetary Council. As the virus ravaged the world, we as a Council had to find a delicate balance,” the prime minister said.
Headded, “In February, the Monetary Council approved up to $1 million to support the vaccine rollout programmes, which commenced in February in most member countries. Our regional solidarity was on full display as we helped each other by sharing our vaccine allotments, recognizing that we were in it together. No member state is safe until all Member States are safe.”
TheSt. Kitts and Nevis prime minister further noted that since the onset of the pandemic, member governments have toiled long and hard not only to secure vaccines but to provide critical relief and support for people and businesses.
“In this regard, St. Kitts and Nevis provided a stimulus package valued in the region of $120 million during 2020. Very recently, my Government has assessed the situation on the ground here in St. Kitts and Nevis and announced another comprehensive stimulus package which features, among other elements, an Income Support Programme estimated at $15 million to support vulnerable families and individuals who continue to be unemployed as a result of the pandemic,” Dr. Harris said.
Earlierthis year, the Monetary Council authorised the Central Bank to provide a $1 million grant to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in support following the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano, which forced the evacuation of thousands of residents. This was in addition to the individual contributions of member countries such as St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica and Grenada which all contributed $1 million.
Additionally, the ECCB became the first monetary union in the world to issue a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), called DCash. DCash was launched on March 31, 2021, in St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Saint Lucia.
AtFriday’s ceremony, Prime Minister Harris handed over the Chair to the Premier of Montserrat, the Honourable Joseph Farrell.