COVID-19 Infections, Low Vaccination Rates Hamper ECCU Economic Recovery

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

The recovery of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) economy continues to be affected by new waves of COVID-19 infections and low vaccination rates in some member countries.

The disclosure came in a Communique after the hundredth Monetary Council meeting of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) held on Friday via video conference.

Attendees heard that activity in tourism, the mainstay of the ECCU economy, remains sluggish.

The Communique noted that the constrained economic performance of the ECCU in the first nine months of 2021 was exacerbated by losses and destruction due to eruptions of La Soufriere volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines from April 2021 and the passage of Hurricane Elsa near Saint Lucia in July 2021.

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The document said the protracted pandemic continues to cause significant hardship, particularly among the most vulnerable groups such as households and small businesses in society.

In this regard, member countries reiterated an appeal to the international community for additional financing to help them provide income support to citizens and small businesses most affected.

“The projected growth rate of 6.9 for the ECCU for 2022 is subject to significant uncertainty and, if realised, would still not be sufficient to return ECCU economies to their pre-pandemic levels,” the end of meeting Communique observed.

The document explained that against this backdrop, the Monetary Council reiterated the urgency for citizens and residents to step forward and be vaccinated.

“Indeed, this issue is critical to speed up economic recovery and reduce the economic hardship being experienced by many. It is also critical for a safe return to school for many of the region’s children and to reduce the burden on parents and teachers,” the release stated.

It disclosed that Monetary, credit, and financial conditions remained stable through the first nine months of 2021 despite a lower level of economic activity, while the foreign reserve backing for the EC dollar remained robust.

As of 15 October 2021, the backing ratio stood at 96.5 percent, above the statutory minimum requirement of 60.0 percent.

Headline photo: Internet stock image

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