TONY BEST: Pushing savings bonds in NY
WITH AN EYE on investment opportunities available to Barbadians abroad and their close relatives at home, Dr DeLisle Worrell, Governor of Barbados’ Central Bank, visited Brooklyn with a distinct message.
That message was that Barbados’ savings bonds, treasury notes and debentures, all investment instruments for the average Bajan should be considered for inclusion in people’s portfolios.
He said first, they were safe and backed by the Government. Secondly, they were profitable, paying a fixed interest rate that far exceeds what’s available on private investment markets in the US. Thirdly, they allow Bajans in North America to invest in their birthplace’s economic and social development.
“The reason why I feel confident in telling you about them is that they are designed to suit your interest,” said Worrell as he addressed scores of people who attended a town hall meeting at the Beulah Church of the Nazarene, a predominantly West Indian house of worship where the Reverend Oral Walcott is a pastor.
“A lot of Barbadians say we want to invest in Barbados to help the country. I don’t want you to invest in Barbados mainly to help the country. I want you to invest in Barbados to help yourselves because the instruments we offer are suitable for your needs, depending on the circumstances and your plans,” he said.
Issued in denominations that range from $50 to $100 000 per issue, the savings bonds, he pointed out, pay interest of more than five per cent, which was much higher than what commercial banks in North America and Barbados offer their depositors.
“All of our instruments are at fixed rates and you get what’s on the ticket,” explained Worrell.
“In other countries and other circumstances, sometimes on mortgages, you get what are called floating (or adjustable) rates which are tied to some indicator rate, like the inter-bank rate or something like that and in those cases the interest can move over time. But in the case of the Barbados Government’s securities there is a stipulated time for maturity and the Central Bank manages all of the Government issues.”
In addition, Bajans in the Diaspora and at home “can expect a cheque from us or deposited into an account that you have given us,” he said.
Worrell was in the City for talks with Wall Street executive and other officials, including economists with the credit rating agencies, including Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. They discussed Barbados’ economic performance and he made a case for a possible upgrade of the country’s credit rating, which now languishes in junk bond territory.
The case for a reversal was based on two key factors: the economy was firmly on a growth path after years of declines or stagnation and the fact that Barbados had “never missed a loan payment” in its history.
With Parliament set to consider Government Estimates of expenditure, the issue of the deficit was of concern to Wall Street, which wants to see it reduced.
Tony Marshall, a retired banker who is now Barbados’ Ambassador to the UN, described the savings bonds as being both convenient and profitable investments for Barbadians living abroad.
It was the first time a Central Bank governor had participated in a New York City town Hall meeting arranged by the Barbados Government offices. Thursday evening’s function was organised by Consul General Dr Donna Hunte-Cox and her staff.
“It was a good exchange of information and views,” she said afterwards.
Tony Best is the NATION’s North American correspondent. Email [email protected]