Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Hon Gaston Browne
GROS ISLET, St Lucia — There is no justice in the de-banking and barring of small Caribbean states from the international payment system, said Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who has lead responsibility for financial matters in the quasi-Cabinet of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government.
The prime minister was speaking at a forum in Saint Lucia on Thursday organised by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
“De-banking and de-risking undermines the ability of small countries to meet their development agenda and injures them without any mechanism for remedy”, Browne told the audience of fellow Caribbean prime ministers, central bank and financial officials and private sector representatives.
New Ambassador of Slovenia to CARICOM, His Excellency Stanislav Vidovič, in a ceremony for the presentation of his credentials to Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Wednesday, pointed to several areas for closer cooperation including sustainable development, environmental issues, climate change and economic integration.
He said as a member of the European Union, Slovenia took an active role in developing the Joint Caribbean EU Partnership Strategy and was one of the chief proponents of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and CARIFORUM which was signed in 2008, the year Slovenia held the EU Presidency.
Delegates at the CFATF Meeting in Georgetown, Guyana (Photo via Department of Public Information)
Executive Director of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), Calvin Wilson has said that de-risking or the loss of correspondent banking relations is looming largely across the Caribbean region because of what is being perceived by international financial institutions as “high-risk jurisdictions operating in a high-risk region.”
Wilson is disagreeing with this perception on the basis that many of the countries have taken stringent steps to correct the deficiencies in their Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, during their mutual evaluations. He disclosed that many of the formerly high-risk countries are now compliant or “largely compliant” with the standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
However, the CFATF Executive highlighted that this progress is not being translated to regulators around the world.
“We think that if that were to be taken into account, then some of the decisions that have been made with regard to de-listing would not have been taken,” he noted.
More outreaches, Wilson said, may be necessary to set the record straight. At a meeting organised by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held in Antigua and Barbuda towards the end of October, 2017, the Region embraced the guidelines set by the FATF, as it relates to correspondent banking.
Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has urged Sweden to use its position in two major international organisations to highlight the unfair labelling of some of the Community’s Member States as “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions”.
Speaking at the CARICOM Secretariat’s Turkeyen, Guyana headquarters during the accreditation ceremony of Sweden’s news Ambassador to the Community, the Secretary-General said, “as we seek to diversify our economies and build our services sector, some of our Member States, engaged in financial services, have been labelled as “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions”. This is despite the fact that the countries in question are not so designated by the relevant global authorities, such as the Financial Action Task Force and the OECD Global Forum.”
“As a member of the EU and the OECD, Sweden can assist in encouraging these bodies to be guided by the informed position of the relevant global regulatory authorities and desist from their unnecessary seemingly punitive actions,” he added.
Remittances to developing countries fell for a second consecutive year in 2016, a trend not seen in three decades, says the latest edition of the Migration and Development Brief, released on Friday the World Bank’s Spring Meetings.
The Bank estimates that officially recorded remittances to developing countries amounted to $429 billion in 2016, a decline of 2.4 percent over $440 billion in 2015. Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, contracted by 1.2 percent to $575 billion in 2016, from $582 billion in 2015.
Low oil prices and weak economic growth in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Russian Federation are taking a toll on remittance flows to South Asia and Central Asia, while weak growth in Europe has reduced flows to North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The decline in remittances, when valued in U.S. dollars, was made worse by a weaker euro, British pound and Russian ruble against the U.S. dollar.
Read more at: World Bank