By Carl Joseph
Prime Minister Gaston Browne used the opportunity during the official opening of the Caribbean Union Bank (CUB) branch to make the call for more Antiguans and Barbudans to become managers of local banks.
“I believe that we should be developing our people to the extent that these banks should be managed by Antiguans and Barbudans,” Browne stated to resounding applause.
“I take objection to domestic banks in particular, bringing in people, even from within the sub-region, to manage our banks,” Browne said.
Recalling his own career in banking which, he said, started over 20 years ago as a teller at the Swiss American Bank, the prime minister described his meteoric rise to becoming a manager there.
“I cannot understand that 20-something years later that we are struggling to find a local bank manager to manage our banks. I mean, there is some level of retrogression within that space,” Browne said.
To this end, he revealed that a proposed partnership between the government and the domestic banks would offer scholarships to citizens who wish to pursue or further advance their studies in banking.
“It is not acceptable for us to say we don’t have the skills and that we have to import. We want our people to enjoy top-level jobs. We want to make sure that they can earn a good income,” he said.
While addressing the top bank managers and board members who were in attendance on Thursday during the opening ceremony at Starlings Business Centre on Factory Road, Browne announced: “We have extended the opportunity for you to identify a number of young, bright people in this bank and other local banks who you can fast-track through the system.”
The PM emphasised that the scholarship offer was not designed for, nor was it to be extended to workers over the age of 50.
“We want continuity,” he said. “Look at the young, bright ones within staff and those who show the kind of aptitude and would like to make banking their career; invest in them.”
The prime minister suggested that the government may decide to offer at least one scholarship to each of the domestic banks. This offer by the government, Browne proposed, should be matched with at least one scholarship offer by the banks themselves and suggested that they could go as high as three.
“It’s all part of developing your human resource capabilities so that you can deliver a better service,” Browne said.