Central Bank governor urges no politicisation of ABIB

Sir Dwight Venner said any politicising of the troubled bank’s resolution would only do more harm than good.

“Banking and politics do not go together. You just spook people,” he said, calling on the public to be“rational”.

“Every time there’s an uproar somebody comes to withdraw their money from the bank and we’re trying our level best.”

The governor commended the remaining staff and customers at ABIB for their loyalty and understanding despite the strain.

He described ABIB as “a very difficult operation” compared to the resolution of Bank of Antigua in 2011.

“When we did the Bank of Antigua, we had the government and bank from other countries come together, and now we have ECAB. But recently, as the prime minister would have told you, we’ve been making significant progress towards a resolution.”

The Central Bank, Sir Dwight said, is working with several regional and international agencies to resolve the issues at the financially troubled institution.

“We’ve worked very hard. We have the IMF, the World Bank, and the CDB. There’s also a technical committee chaired by Minister Weston that counterparts with all of us and I think we’re making significant progress.”

The governor said government has been particularly helpful.

“I have to say the government has been working hand in glove along with the other institutions to see how we can bring this thing to a satisfactory conclusion. There’s a lot of will there on all sides, but this is an extremely complex issue.”

Meanwhile, Sir Dwight said Antigua & Barbuda is “alone and unique” in its contention over the point of severance in the Banking Act.

A number of bank employees petitioned government not to pass the Bill back in April. The aggrieved workers cited that Section 153 of the proposed law removed the rights of the employees as it relates to their priority for severance payment under the Companies Act.

Sir Dwight, however, appeared to believe the point was a moot one.

“The way that the Act is drafted and the decision of the Monetary Council regarding the liquidation ofbanks… means that if there’s no liquidation then the matter of severance doesn’t arise,” he said.

Without a separate fund that could supply the money needed to pay workers’ severance, in the event of a liquidation, he said there was little the banks could do.

“So the question is if something is liquidated where you will get the funds for people to be paid. Thepractical thing is if the money’s not there to do it, how will it be done? Liquidation means what it means.”

When a business or firm is terminated or bankrupt, its assets are sold, or liquidated, and the proceeds pay creditors. Any leftovers are distributed to shareholders.


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