Central Bank governor Cleviston Haynes hailed the Bank’s legacy of public education when he launched its 42nd annual review seminar on Tuesday.
Haynes said over past five decades, the Bank invested in various programmes that have helped to educate and stimulate public discussion.
“As we reflect on our legacy, one area in which we can be proud is public education,” he said.
“Sir Courtney Blackman, the Bank’s first governor, strongly believed that the Bank’s success in fulfilling its mission to foster a sound economic and financial environment was indelibly tied to Barbadians’ understanding of the economy and support for the policies that were necessary for its growth and development.”
In this regard, Haynes said he hoped this year’s seminar will continue in the vein of the Bank’s thrust to educate the public.
“The (seminar) exposes participants to the latest research on traditional and emerging areas of economics, finance, and related disciplines, which can then be used to inform policy and business ideas,” he said.
“For experienced professionals, the (seminar) is a way to stay current. For young economists, presenting at the seminar is a developmental exercise, an opportunity to hone research and presentation skills and learn from the invaluable feedback and critique from discussants.
“We who have had this experience can attest to these benefits. Many of the publications of economists in peer reviewed journals start with a presentation at this seminar.”
Haynes said this year the Bank deviated from the traditional keynote address and focussed the opening session on three emerging issues that are consuming the interest of central bankers everywhere.
“First, we will focus on climate risk and the green agenda,” he said. “Our vulnerability to the worsening effects of climate change as witnessed by the frequency and severity of super storms, with little to no recourse, is unfortunately our shared reality. This has potential implications for growth, reserves, debt, financial stability, and so on.
“Our inability to halt nature’s response to rising global temperatures has forced a global dialogue to which we must turn our attention. Globally, central bankers are trying to integrate issues related to climate change into the monetary policy framework, and are building models to assess the financial implications of climate change. And we must do likewise.”
He added: “Secondly, at the Central Bank, we continue to grapple with the protracted nature of the COVID- 19 pandemic, the fall-out due to supply chain issues, climatic events at home and abroad, and exacerbating food and energy prices as the Russia-Ukraine conflict drags on. What are the challenges to policy in this environment? Will our policy instruments be effective as we seek to address these issues?
“Thirdly, the thrust towards technological solutions, which the pandemic fuelled over the last two-and-a-half years, has gained momentum with the changing nature of the payments and settlement landscape. Disruptive technologies have emerged, facilitating the launch of central bank digital currencies, including within the Caribbean region.”
Haynes noted that The Bahamas central bank was the first in Caricom to issue a retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) within months of experiencing one of the strongest hurricanes, as they sought to restore financial access to areas impacted by the event.
“These technologies have also spawned volatile investment instruments such as crypto-assets and stablecoins whose existence may accelerate the thrust among central bankers towards retail CBDC issuance,” he said. “The discussion on CBDCs raises several issues, including are they inevitable in the digital age and will they impact financial stability.”