By Makeida Antonio
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, the newly elected Chairman of the OECS Assembly, has taken the fight against the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), to a regional platform.
In January 2019, Browne, who also holds the portfolio of Minister of Finance and Corporate Governance, threatened compulsory acquisition of the Canadian based bank following its announcement that it will be selling its Antigua branch, along with eight others in the Caribbean, to Republic Financial Holdings Limited of Trinidad and Tobago.
Scotiabank operates several other branches within the OECS sub-region.
On Monday, during the Fourth meeting of the OECS Assembly in Antigua, Browne asked representatives of OECS member states to consider uniting to purchase the assets of Scotiabank in the sub-region.
“I want to put it to this Honourable House that this divestment represents a significant opportunity for the OECS sub-region, and I do not see why we should allow a bank outside of the OECS [Republic Financial Holdings Limited] to be given priority.
“I am of the strong view, the firm view, that the OECS should come together and that we should conjointly purchase all of the Scotia Bank branches. All of them,” he said.
The Antiguan and Barbudan leader said that he will remain firm in his stance, stating that the people of the OECS should have access to correspondent banking, which is a “fundamental right”.