Former government minister, Peter Josie, has warned of potential dire consequences from a decision by Scotiabank to exit nine Caribbean countries, including St Lucia.
Earlier this week, Scotiabank announced plans to sell the Caribbean businesses to Trinidad and Tobago-based Republic Financial Holdings Ltd., subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions.
However, Josie has expressed concern that the reserve currencies of the countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in US dollars could be put at the mercy and in the hands of Republic Bank or its agents in Trinidad and Tobago.
“It means that the Trinidad merchants, these avaricious people, in no time at all will find their hands on the OECS reserve currencies and very soon if that happens, the people and businesses in St Lucia and the rest of the OECS will have to line up to get a few dollars to do business,” the former St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) leader told a radio audience Thursday.
He also called on Prime Minister and others to look into the matter and try to summon a meeting of all OECS leaders and Finance Ministers to see if they can halt what is going on.
“It will not be in the interest of these Islands and the inhabitants of the OECS,” Josie declared.
He noted that Republic Financial Holdings Ltd. was not buying Scotiabank in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica or anywhere else in the Caribbean.
“One of the things we have to look at very carefully, especially in relation to Jamaica and Trinidad, is that these countries do not have the kind of foreign exchange reserves that the OECS has,” the former foreign minister explained.
He observed that the OECS Islands have been able to better manage their reserves.
“Trinidad has almost no foreign currency reserves and their merchants and big businesses are bawling when it comes to trying to get US dollars from their Central Bank,” Josie asserted.