Declaration Speech, The Right Honorable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas Prime Minister, St. Kitts & Nevis ECCB-Sponsored Financial Information Month October 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls:

It is my distinct pleasure to invite you to become involved in Financial Information Month – an upcoming, and very important undertaking which will take place during the month of October, and which should be of great interest to us all. This wide range of events, initiatives, and activities will be taking place in St. Kitts-Nevis, and indeed throughout the countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, as our Governments, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, and a range of other entities come together to strengthen the financial underpinnings of our region and our people.

Financial Information Month has my full support for two reasons – both equally important: One reason is that I, as you know, am Minister of Finance of our Federation, and it is the Ministers of Finance throughout our ECCU region who will be alerting our respective populations regarding the importance of Financial Information Month. In my capacity as Finance Minister, therefore, I welcome the opportunity to officially present these important plans with you.

The other reason that I so strongly support Financial Information Month is that as Prime Minister of our Federation, I have a deep and multifaceted commitment to steer our country and our nationals in the direction of responsibility, stability, and self-mastery. And I am keenly aware that key to any hope of overall self-mastery is a certain wisdom and sobriety where one’s personal finances are concerned.

For too long, individuals with great minds have devoted all of their time to mastering one area of professional expertise or another, while having not the slightest inkling about even the most rudimentary aspects of money management. As a result, these individuals often invest a great deal of time learning how to make money, while knowing absolutely nothing about how to keep that money, how to manage that money, or how to make that money grow.

And then, of course, there are those with equally good minds who never figure out how to make any money at all.

It is my desire, as I am sure it is the desire of Finance Ministers throughout the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, to ensure that throughout the region, there develops a greater familiarity with the sources of financial stability, and paths to economic progress. And as Prime Minister of St. Kitts-Nevis, I want Kittitians and Nevisians of all ages to know, first, how to generate income and, secondly, how to hold on to that income, and make it grow. I want us to understand the difference between saving and investment. And I want us to understand how best to manage conflicting demands on our limited financial resources. Most importantly, I want us to learn how to differentiate between those demands that drain us financially, and those that lead to greater security in the long run.

And so, I invite everyone – indeed, more than inviting you, I urge you, to be sure to take maximum advantage of all that has been organized for your benefit, during the month of October, in order that you, your children, and indeed your children’s children could, hopefully, acquire a solid level of financial self-mastery.

For those of you who have participated in previous Financial Information Months, I encourage you to let others know what a growth-enhancing undertaking this always is. Make certain that your relatives and friends show an interest, participate, and grow.

Financial Information Month is a broad-based and truly national undertaking. Organized by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Government will be involved; financial institutions will be involved; academic institutions, the media, and private sector institutions will be involved; community groups will be involved. And the reason so many entities will be involved is that from the moment of its inception in 2002, Financial Information Month has always been designed to truly serve the public interest. It does, indeed, exist for the young and the old, from all walks of life.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we know only too well the economic stresses being experienced all over the world. What we in the Eastern Caribbean now want, is to develop in our people insights that will serve them in good times and bad. More precisely, we want for all of our people a keener, sharper, deeper understanding of money and the economy. Because the better we all understand of these ideas, the stronger our families, our islands, and our region will become.

During Financial Information Month, there will be an emphasis on the importance of energy and dynamism to financial and business success. There will be an emphasis on the importance of a competitive spirit. And it will be shown how this leads to greater the productivity, better wages, and the wealth accumulation on which all economic advancement depends. The advantages of entrepreneurship will be widely and repeatedly discussed. Credit officers will receive special training to help borrowers enter into loan contracts more successfully. A business symposium will have teachers and business persons discussing innovation from their respective points of view.

Financial institutions will host open days to facilitate greater interaction with the public. Small businesses will be trained in record keeping, credit management, business and risk management. And business teachers will be given greater insights into financial and business issues so as to better help their students.

This is clearly a very thorough program of finance and business-related activities!

In addition, a special symposium will be held to impress upon fourth and fifth-formers the advantages of entrepreneurship. High school students will submit business plans supporting innovative business ideas, with the best proposals winning attractive cash prizes.

Financial institutions will make presentations to high school and even primary school students, stressing entrepreneurship as a path to wealth creation, and emphasizing the importance of good money management. Finance and business tips will be widely disseminated, in English as well as Spanish. There will be a walk-a-thon and innovation rally. The ECCU will celebrate outstanding examples of entrepreneurial success through storytelling and interviews, in print and on television.

I assume that the excitement has begun to build regarding October and Financial Information Month getting here!

There will be panel discussions on record keeping, credit management, savings, and investments. On Fridays and Saturdays, there will be street theatre to drive home the importance of savings and credit management. There will be presentations to churches, business houses, and community groups. And, of course, there will be interviews with representatives from financial institutions, all promoting the messages and activities of Financial Information Month 2012.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Financial Information Month was designed for you. But it comes only once per year. I urge you to seize this opportunity, learn as much as you can, and, in the process, make yourself, your family, and your nation even stronger. This is something you simply must do!

Financial Information Month is an excellent idea that will benefit our people for years to come. On behalf of the Government, I commend all who worked so very hard to put such an extraordinary program of activities together. Our region will long be in your debt. And so once again, we thank you.

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