Categorized | Local, News

BOM Amalgamation: Do We Have a Choice?

 By Warren Cassell

Head table at Amalgamation Forum

Head table at Amalgamation Forum

Having recently celebrated 25 years of existence, and surviving insolvency while repaying an over $20 million dollar loan, the Bank of Montserrat is at a crossroad. Should it join with other indigenous banks in the region? “Amalgamation” seems to have been the buzz word at the recent forum held by the BOM at the Brades Arts and Education Centre where many gathered to “discuss” amalgamation of the bank. Defined by most dictionaries as “the process of uniting and combining multiple entities into one form”, Amalgamation seemed to many Montserratians as meaning “losing our money and liquidity.”

In attendance were the Hon. Premiere Reuben T. Meade, Governor of the Central Bank Sir Dwight Venner, Chairman of the BOM Venita Cabey and other officials from the central bank and BOM. The proceedings was chaired by the BOM Manager Mr. Michael Joseph. The proceedings opened with the Bank’s Chairman Venita Cabey welcoming the panel as well as their “valued stakeholders”. She also stated that the primary objective of this forum was “for our stake holders to gain an understanding of the amalgamation process.”

The Hon. Premier addressed the government’s perspective of amalgamation. Addressing the gathering, he noted that the BOM must be ran as a professional organization where the government, being the largest shareholder in the bank, “does not get involved in the day to day running of the bank”. He also reassured the gathering that the Government does not use BOM as a subsidiary treasury. He said, “When we are looking at developing our regional institutions, we in the region must stop this village mentality that if you’re not from my village you can’t participate with what’s happening here.” He added that the economic situations in the other Eastern Caribbean states impact us here on Montserrat. We must therefore develop the union as a single body.

Addressing the persons who are in doubt about amalgamation Mr. Meade assured “the smallest bank, the largest bank once they pool their resources, you will have a stronger bank and a strong banking system.” Mr. Meade concluded his address by indicating “it is not ‘if it will happen’, it is ‘when will it happen? It will happen!’” leaving one to wonder what was the true purpose of the “discussion” if amalgamation was to be entrusted upon shareholders without their input.

Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Governor Sir Dwight Venner supported the Premiere in making a case out for the amalgamation. He reminded the gathering that the BOM was particularly close to the ECCB in that it was the first bank in which it had to intervened. He said that it has nothing to do with our emotions and “in the final analysis people have to choose, we can’t force people to do things but the trade offs are there. People can choose”.

Despite all that was said, there is the observation that it seemed as if the BOM has robbed shareholders of that power to choose. It was stated that at least three other options were on the table at the board level. Shareholders were never made aware of these other options and could not have been given a chance to assist in the decision to rule them out. Instead, Executives are selling them that the bank’s survival will be determined by amalgamation. Therefore there is no other choice, with all the speakers enunciating that, amalgamation, “it is not a matter of when!”

After presentations the panel entertained questions from an audience of about 50 persons. The fundamental lack of understanding of amalgamation was gleaned from some of the questions asked. It was obvious that the bank had failed to educate the masses as to the intricacies of amalgamation.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

 By Warren Cassell

Head table at Amalgamation Forum

Head table at Amalgamation Forum

Having recently celebrated 25 years of existence, and surviving insolvency while repaying an over $20 million dollar loan, the Bank of Montserrat is at a crossroad. Should it join with other indigenous banks in the region? “Amalgamation” seems to have been the buzz word at the recent forum held by the BOM at the Brades Arts and Education Centre where many gathered to “discuss” amalgamation of the bank. Defined by most dictionaries as “the process of uniting and combining multiple entities into one form”, Amalgamation seemed to many Montserratians as meaning “losing our money and liquidity.”

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In attendance were the Hon. Premiere Reuben T. Meade, Governor of the Central Bank Sir Dwight Venner, Chairman of the BOM Venita Cabey and other officials from the central bank and BOM. The proceedings was chaired by the BOM Manager Mr. Michael Joseph. The proceedings opened with the Bank’s Chairman Venita Cabey welcoming the panel as well as their “valued stakeholders”. She also stated that the primary objective of this forum was “for our stake holders to gain an understanding of the amalgamation process.”

The Hon. Premier addressed the government’s perspective of amalgamation. Addressing the gathering, he noted that the BOM must be ran as a professional organization where the government, being the largest shareholder in the bank, “does not get involved in the day to day running of the bank”. He also reassured the gathering that the Government does not use BOM as a subsidiary treasury. He said, “When we are looking at developing our regional institutions, we in the region must stop this village mentality that if you’re not from my village you can’t participate with what’s happening here.” He added that the economic situations in the other Eastern Caribbean states impact us here on Montserrat. We must therefore develop the union as a single body.

Addressing the persons who are in doubt about amalgamation Mr. Meade assured “the smallest bank, the largest bank once they pool their resources, you will have a stronger bank and a strong banking system.” Mr. Meade concluded his address by indicating “it is not ‘if it will happen’, it is ‘when will it happen? It will happen!’” leaving one to wonder what was the true purpose of the “discussion” if amalgamation was to be entrusted upon shareholders without their input.

Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Governor Sir Dwight Venner supported the Premiere in making a case out for the amalgamation. He reminded the gathering that the BOM was particularly close to the ECCB in that it was the first bank in which it had to intervened. He said that it has nothing to do with our emotions and “in the final analysis people have to choose, we can’t force people to do things but the trade offs are there. People can choose”.

Despite all that was said, there is the observation that it seemed as if the BOM has robbed shareholders of that power to choose. It was stated that at least three other options were on the table at the board level. Shareholders were never made aware of these other options and could not have been given a chance to assist in the decision to rule them out. Instead, Executives are selling them that the bank’s survival will be determined by amalgamation. Therefore there is no other choice, with all the speakers enunciating that, amalgamation, “it is not a matter of when!”

After presentations the panel entertained questions from an audience of about 50 persons. The fundamental lack of understanding of amalgamation was gleaned from some of the questions asked. It was obvious that the bank had failed to educate the masses as to the intricacies of amalgamation.