St Kitts-Nevis passes controversial Banking Act

The House of Assembly in St Kitts, at close to 3:15 on Wednesday, after two days of debate, passed into law without amendment the Banking Bill 2015, which seeks to reform the region’s banking sector to give more regulatory muscle to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB ).

Critics of the Act have expressed concern that only the ECCB will determine whether a licence is granted, can revoke that licence, veto the appointment of directors, and will command the proceeds of the annual licence, thus removing control of the banking sector from the finance ministers of individual territories.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, former minister of justice and foreign affairs Patrice Nisbett expressed similar sentiments.

The new banking Act provides for the regulation and supervision of banking business, the establishment of a single banking space, the ownership structures for licensed financial institutions, the licensing of financial holding companies, the corporate governance of licensed financial institutions, the framework for the official administration of licensed financial institutions and for incidental and related matters.

The Bill is divided into fourteen parts.

Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris, in supporting the legislation, underscored the importance of the banking system to the financial health of the Eastern Caribbean.

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