June 19, 2009
CMMB opens sub-branch office in St. Vincent

An Eastern Caribbean (EC) amalgamated bank, with a combined deposit base of over $6 billion, is the direction in which the indigenous banks of the Eastern Caribbean (EC) countries should be going.{{more}}

This was the opinion expressed by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Ralph Gonsalves, last Tuesday, June 16th.

Dr Gonsalves was at the time delivering the feature address at the official opening of the Caribbean Money Market Brokers (CMMB) sub-branch office here.

He noted that the local National Commercial Bank (NCB) has a deposit base of about $800 million, and said that it will take an amalgamated approach to empower the indigenous banks to be an entity that “can take on real big projects.”

He noted the joint effort by the EC indigenous banks to purchase the Bank of Antigua, which fell as its parent company, the Stanford Group of Companies began to crumble under US authorities’ investigation of owner, billionaire Sir Allen Stanford.

The Prime Minister was high in praise for the work of CMMB, which has $63 million of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ government bonds as a part of its investment portfolio.

He told the audience gathered at the De Freitas Compound at Beachmont, where CMMB will has its local office, that the “excellent work” being done by CMMB, is crucial to the government raising the funds needed to fund the public investment projects.

He said that in the midst of the challenges facing the financial sector, CMMB establishing a physical presence in St Vincent and the Grenadines is another step in building confidence in the local financial sector.

Gonsalves boasted about the efficient regulatory framework that is at work in the financial sector of the EC countries, and said that the shortcomings which exist in the area of Insurance and credit unions and building society regulations are being uniformly addressed.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of First Citizens’ Bank, Larry Howai, stressed that the CMMB is under the wings of the highest rated indigenous banking group.

First Citizens has 23 branches in Trinidad and Tobago and has an asset base of TT$15.9 billion, which when added to CMMB carries it up to TT$25 billion.

Howai explained that despite the turbulent financial times and the changing market conditions, CMMB remains true to its mission of developing, educating and nurturing the capital market of the Caribbean.

Meanwhile the CEO of CMMB Ram Ramesh said that the opening of the sub branch in St Vincent served as a new beginning for the company, because it is the first major activity since the nine-year-old company became part of the First Citizens group.

CMMB was born nine years ago as a partnership between the Jamaica Money Market Brokers and CL Financial in Trinidad.

When the CL Financial Empire crumbled and the government of Trinidad and Tobago had to rescue it last January, CMMB was placed under the wings of the state owned bank, First Citizens.

In addition to Trinidad and Tobago, and here, CMMB also has offices in Barbados and St Lucia (which previously served the entire OECS).(KJ)