“No-one can know what lies before us, and the only thing we can say for sure is that it will not be what we expect, whatever is our surmise about the way things will turn out,” Worrell said at the start of the Domestic Financial Institutions Conference.
He told delegates that while his views on Brexit are public “my only caution about today’s discussion is that it is wise to explore all the angles, because Britain’s decision to exit the EU leads the whole world into uncharted waters”.
In July, Britain voted to leave the European after more than 40 years, a situation that led to the resignation of then Prime Minister David Cameron and uncertainty among Caribbean countries as to their future relationship with London.
Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman told regional leaders at their annual summit in Guyana in July that at a time when the rest of the world is moving towards regional integration in order to carve out an economic space in the global marketplace and to balance the might of the emerging superpowers, Britain has chosen to “retreat to insular nationalism”.
Worrell said that the domestic financial institution conference could not be taking place “without having a conversation on Brexit”.
In his address, the Central Bank Governor said the conference provides an opportunity to focus, in some depth, on issues in the financial sector that are of critical importance to Barbados.
“We are a very open economy, and one aspect of our interdependence with the global economy is the fact that we are subject to international rules that are designed for countries with characteristics and circumstances very different from our own.
“Barbados plays by the rules, as we always have. It is a strength of our financial sector, and one of the factors that makes our country internationally competitive. But it is clear that the application of these rules indiscriminately to all countries, regardless of size and economic circumstances, results in anomalies which may have undesirable consequences”
He said the conference will focus on some of these issues, and the initiatives that are underway to come to terms with the challenges.
He said the “rapid march of technology” offers exciting opportunities and brings with it new challenges.
“It has become a feature of our conference to deal with some aspect of new technology and its actual and potential impact on our financial sector. This is an area where we lead the Caribbean, thanks to the efforts of Barbadian entrepreneurs…”.
He said the conference will also reflect on the past year’s experience with the fully liberalized interest rate policy framework.
“We tried, as we always do, to design a system that works for all the players, for the banks and for all Barbadians and those with whom we do business abroad. In our conversation today we have an opportunity to debate how successful we have been in achieving these objectives.
“Economics is more art than science, and good economic policy always incorporates mechanisms for feedback, so that policies can be tweaked to make them more effective. Today’s conversation is one such opportunity,” he told the delegates.
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