The Role of the Central Bank in the National Development of Barbados

Date: 7/20/2022
Author(s): Central Bank Of Barbados

Created 20 Jul, 2022
Categories General Press Release
Views: 491

Tianna Applewhaite, Queen’s College

This essay will analyse the significant role of the Central Bank of Barbados as it pertains to national development in Barbados. Established on May 2, 1972, the Central Bank of Barbados (CBB) is the premier financial institution which develops the monetary and financial policies and aids the government with its economic development. The CBB is situated in the Tom Adams Financial Centre which is named in honour of Tom Adams who was a former Prime Minister (1976 – 1985). Adams believed the Bank was critical to progress and wanted Barbados to be a leading international services and financial centre in the region. As a result, he advocated for the construction of the CBB in the early 1980s when he was Prime Minister.

Some of the roles of the CBB include creating effective monetary policies, giving the Government economic advice, financial stability and managing the nation’s foreign reserves. Presently, the CBB is celebrating 50 years of existence as an outstanding institution; upholding their mission statement “To foster a sound economic financial environment which promotes the development of stakeholders and encourages a culture of excellence and leadership.” [1]

Mr. Cleviston Haynes, current Governor of the Central Bank, assists with developing policies in order to advance Barbados economically and socially. To give an instance, in the Business Authority in March 2022 the Governor spoke about the importance of financial literacy. Former governors such as Dr. Courtney Blackman and Dr. Marion Williams, among others, aimed to ensure that Barbados’ economy prospered and they helped citizens to improve their lives and livelihoods.

National Development is the capacity of a country to raise the standard of living of its citizens, which the CBB continues to do for Barbadians. How the CBB aids in national development can be placed into two main groups - economic advancement and social progress. The Bank’s social responsibility is visible in events and programmes including the Distinguished Visiting Fellows Programme, Caribbean Economic Forum, Domestic Financial Institutions Conference, Annual Review Seminar and Educational Television Series.

Harold Codrington, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank, published a book entitled “Both Sides of the Coin” which records the various roles of the CBB in local development.[2] Codrington notes that in the late 1970s when the Government promoted Barbados as an offshore financial centre, the Bank supported this measure. The CBB participated in the passing of the Offshore Banking Act (1979), the Shipping Act (1982) and the International Financial Service Bill in 1998. All of which contributed to Barbados’ recognition internationally.

The CBB also developed its staff members as a Staff Association and a Sports and Cultural Club was formed in the 1980s. Staff participated in educational activities, interdepartmental quizzes, sports such as cricket and netball, social gatherings and community services. Codrington states that the Bank aimed to raise staff morale and involve their families in all work-related activities inclusive of anniversary celebrations, staff concerts, award ceremonies and Christmas parties. Anniversary celebrations involved donating medical equipment and a Charity Fun Run in 2017.

The Bank’s public relations included media involvement, speeches, seminars, conferences and lectures. The Central Bank sponsors the Annual Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture where distinguished people speak on various important matters. The CBB also collaborated with the University of the West Indies to deliver lectures on interesting and relevant topics.

This institution commenced a Schools Outreach Programme with children visiting the Central Bank of Barbados in 1979 to learn about its operations. The Bank’s economists also visited secondary schools to inform students about the Barbadian economy and the role of the Bank. In addition, in 2009, the Bank started a National Financial Educational Programme which aided Barbadians to better manage their personal finances including budgeting and saving.

The Bank shows their support of culture with the opening of the Frank Collymore Hall in 1986 as a social service. Many Barbadians have enjoyed social activities as the Bank has accommodated many events such as NIFCA Performing Arts Finals and City Nights shows.

Charitable organizations were allowed to host cultural shows in the Bank’s facilities using it at little to no cost. Besides allowing the use of the Bank’s building, the CBB has sponsored the NCF’s Visual Arts Exhibitions by donating thousands of dollars for the winners. In 2020 the Fish and Dragon Festival Gala which is a cultural exchange between China and Barbados was held in the Hall. The opening of the Courtney Blackman Grande Salle in 1986 also assisted the CBB’s public outreach programme.

The Bank aided charitable and community organizations which requested assistance. Some were allowed to use the Bank’s facilities freely and the CBB made contributions sometimes monetary to educational institutions and service clubs. The Bank’s major fund-raising drive happened in 2012 with a one-cent drive to help the Alzheimer’s Association with the building of a day care centre. The CBB collected 14.4 million cents or ($144,000.00).

Furthermore, the Bank started the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment in 1998, aimed at developing arts and literature. This project encourages quality writing with monetary prizes for the best drama, poetry and prose. In 2001 and 2002, the endowment funded scholarships for creative writing workshops at the University of the West Indies.

The CBB supports education and training as part of national development. For example, the internship programmes for young economists in the 1980s. For its 25th anniversary the bank established a scholarship for Barbadians pursuing studies in economics at the UWI donating $6,000.00 for two years. Again, in 2012, the Bank supported the Student Programme for Innovation, Science and Engineering at the U.W.I. This targeted secondary school students who were interested in careers in science or engineering. In 2014 there was the De La Rue Scholarship for students doing post graduate studies at the UWI worth $35,000.00.

The Central Bank choir also helped with community outreach by performing at several festivities including anniversary celebrations and concerts. In 1992, the Choir went carolling and distributing gifts through nearby Church Village. The Village’s environs were assessed and the residents of Church Village were relocated to better surroundings. The CBB took the opportunity to remodel and now we enjoy the beautified and environmentally friendly space outside of the Bank.

The Central Bank also developed our young people through the Youth Pan Project. A summer programme for the training of students was hosted. Steelpan performances were seen in May 2002 to mark the Bank’s 30th anniversary. There was also an entertaining Youth Pan Extravaganza in 2019.

The CBB publishes the Annual Report and Accounts, Economic and Financial Statistics, Annual Statistics Digest, Economic Review and The Balance of Payments to inform Barbadians about the economy’s performance. Books such as “The Economy of Barbados 1946 - 1980” and “Both Sides of the Coin” are beneficial for educational purposes. In addition, the Bank published an Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorist Financing Guideline in 2011 to help financial institutions deal with these issues. The CBB has a Research and Economic Analysis Department and a library, which holds valuable information.

The CBB has utilised technology to help with our development. It has a website with considerable information including speeches and history of the Bank. Technology has also been used on our new polymer banknotes. On its Facebook page Governor Haynes presented the Quarterly Review of the Economy on April 27, 2022 to keep Barbadians up-to-date on the economy. Mr. Haynes was also a panellist on the Caribbean Economic Forum – “How Can Central Banks Fight Inflation”. This was held virtually on May 5th 2022 and sponsored by the Bank. He spoke about inflation destabilizing social development and its negative impact on Barbadians.

Some developments have been postponed due to the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the volcanic eruption (April 2021), freak storm, Hurricane Elsa (July 2021) and currently the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The Central Bank and the government continue to protect the society against the full economic effects of these unfortunate events. The Governor and staff do their best to prevent the devaluation of our Barbadian dollar and help us to cope with economic recessions.

In conclusion, the Central Bank has assisted Barbados’ development through various programmes, projects and activities which have a positive impact socially, economically, culturally and environmentally. The objectives of the CBB include economic growth, reducing poverty and unemployment, raising the standard of living and social progress. According to a CBB magazine, “The Bank is therefore very important to the economic well-being of Barbados. It is dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to enable this country to continue to prosper.”[3]

For 50 years from 1972 to 2022, the Central Bank is “Living the Legacy and Continuing the Journey.” I wish the Central Bank all the best in the future and thank this wonderful institution for the numerous and wide-ranging things it has done for Barbadian society and our national development.

[2] Harold Codrington. Both Sides of the Coin -

 [3] Audio Visual Aids Department, Central Bank. Our Money, A Means of Exchange. Reprinted 2005. 

Copyright 2022 by Central Bank of Barbados