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  • 2023: A Look Back (Part Three)

2023: A Look Back (Part Three)

This article, the third in a four-part series, looks back at some of the Central Bank of Barbados’ activities and initiatives in 2023. Read parts one, two and four here.

Climate Resilience Discussion Kicks Off the 43rd Annual Review Seminar

In July, the Bank’s Annual Review Seminar returned to its traditional in-person format after three years of being either fully or mostly virtual. The seminar kicked off with a keynote panel discussion on the topic “Innovative Financial Solutions for Climate Resilience” that featured a panel comprising Jennifer Doherty-Bigara, Senior Climate Change Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); Torsten Elhers, Senior Financial Expert, International Monetary Fund (IMF); Leslie Gittens, Multi-Country Manager (Caribbean), the United Nations Global Compact; and Donna Wellington, Managing Director, Barbados & Eastern Caribbean, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank. 

The panellists, along with moderator Derek Gibbs, Climate Finance Specialist in the Environmental Sustainability Unit of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), explored both the current financial products available and other potential instruments that could meet the needs of small island developing states like Barbados. More broadly, they discussed the island’s progress toward reaching its renewable energy goals and the effort that will be required to take it over the finish line.

Over the five days, participants heard presentations and gave feedback on research related to the labour market, the housing market, trade, tourism, and financial sector developments.

Innovative Financial Solutions for Climate Resilience

Commercial Banks Introduce No-Maintenance-Fee Accounts

During July’s quarterly economic review and press conference, Deputy Governor Alwyn Jordan announced that following months of discussion between the Central Bank and the island’s commercial banks, the commercial banks had all agreed to offer customers at least one bank account for which they would not be charged maintenance fees. 

Jordan said that this was part of the Bank’s efforts to address Barbadians’ complaints about the numerous and high fees they incurred from these financial institutions. The Central Bank had previously capped the amount commercial banks can charge its customers for using other financial institutions’ ATMs and eliminated all charges when clients used the banks’ own machines.

The Deputy Governor also said that the Central Bank was actively encouraging commercial banks to focus on financial intermediation rather than relying on fees for supplemental income.

Governor Counsels Young Adults

In August, Governor Greenidge delivered the feature address at the graduation ceremony for the National Transformation Initiative’s Youth Advance Corps.

The Governor impressed upon the students the importance of hard work and of taking advantage of second chances, citing his own story as proof of what can happen when people embrace both. He reminded the graduands, whom he had met with earlier in the year, that he had been able to overcome poor results at CXC to earn a first-class honours degree by first setting himself the goal of being hired by the Central Bank and then by putting in the effort required to make it reality. He encouraged them to do the same with whatever they aspired to. 

Throughout his presentation, he offered the group practical tips they could use to help them achieve their ambitions. He also announced that he had established the Kevin Greenidge Charitable Trust to provide mentorship and financial support for underprivileged young people.

Take Advantage of Second Chances

Other Activities

During the quarter, the Bank hosted two editions of its 2023 Caribbean Economic Forum. In July, the conversation centred around food security. Panellist Regis Chapman, Representative & Country Director for the World Food Programme, spoke about the results of a May 2023 survey his organisation had conducted in collaboration with CARICOM. That survey revealed that 57 percent of people in the region were worried about having enough food, while a quarter had gone an entire day without eating sometime in the previous 30 days. In September, the focus shifted to the region’s efforts to transition away from its dependence on fossil fuels, with the night’s panellists attempting to answer the question, “What Does Moving to Green Energy Mean for Me?” 

In September, Governor Greenidge was the keynote speaker at the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s quarterly general meeting. Later that month, he delivered the Third Distinguished Owen Arthur Memorial Lecture.