Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) - Banking & Finance
“My name is Caroline Abel. I am the Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS), a relatively young but dynamic, resilient and maturing autonomous institution with the primary objective of promoting domestic price stability.”
Can you tell us more about the journey you took to becoming Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles?
Becoming a central banker stems from my passion for mathematics, which I studied alongside economics and geography at Advanced Level at the Seychelles Polytechnic’s School of Humanities and Sciences. Whilst I qualified for a government scholarship to pursue university studies abroad after successfully completing my A-Levels, I was adamant about gaining some work experience before undertaking further studies, which led to the beginning of the journey that has brought me to where I am today. My first job was a junior position at the Social Security Fund in December 1993, where my abilities did not go unnoticed and led to my transfer to the Central Bank in March 1994.
I was formally appointed Senior Bank Clerk in September 1994 after a six-month probationary period, which officially marked the beginning of my central banking career. I was given the opportunity to rotate and spend about two months in each division, after which I was asked to choose where I wanted to work. I chose Research and Statistics, and this is where my journey as an economist started. Two years after joining the Central Bank, I got the opportunity to pursue undergraduate studies at the University of Leeds, graduating with a BA in Economics with Distinction.
Upon my return, I worked as a Research Officer in the Research and Statistics Division, where I spent most of my career with the Central Bank. I became a Senior Research Officer in the same division in 2001 and, subsequently, Director of Research in 2002. In 2004, I decided to pursue a Masters in Philosophy (MPhil) in Monetary Economics and Finance at the University of Glasgow, where I graduated with Distinction in 2005. Upon my return, I was promoted to Head of Research and Statistics, a post I held until I was appointed Deputy Governor in July 2010.
Following amendments to the CBS Act to allow for the appointment of two Deputy Governors, I was appointed First Deputy Governor in December 2011. I was appointed Governor in March 2012, becoming the first woman to hold the position in Seychelles. I am serving my second six-year term as Governor following my re-appointment in March 2018.
Since attaining this position, what do you feel have been your greatest achievements?
Personally, being in a leadership role which involves engagement and communication with various stakeholders ranging from the government, the private sector, the media and the public, as well as being able to take decisions which may be unpopular at times and be accountable for them, have helped me to develop my character and build my confidence.
At an institutional level, during my tenure, the team has navigated numerous challenges, such as the economic reform programmes that the country has embarked on with the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. These events have tested the ability of the institution to withstand the pressure, stand ready to deal with emerging situations and even take unconventional decisions. As a result, this has built the tenacity of our young but dynamic workforce and the resilience of the institution.
Traditionally, central banks have been perceived to be rather conservative and out of reach. In this regard, one other achievement is the institution’s efforts to become more open through enhanced communication with its stakeholders, particularly the media and general public, in addition to the implementation of various financial education initiatives.
This approach has helped bring the institution closer to the public and get people to understand central banking issues and other economic and financial matters, mainly through plain and simple language. This has assisted in getting people to better understand the policies implemented by the Central Bank, shape expectations and allow people to make more informed decisions. The engagements and openness have also helped the institution gain public trust and confidence.
The communication efforts and proactiveness in conveying as much information to the public as possible are also in line with CBS’s transparency efforts, whereby the Bank became one of the early adopters of the IMF Central Bank Transparency Code in 2020. An IMF review of the transparency practices of CBS conducted in 2022 confirmed the Bank’s commitment to transparency across its governance, policies and activities – notably its communication to all stakeholders, including the public – that CBS sets a high benchmark for transparency. This is, therefore, another key achievement when there is much emphasis on the importance of transparency, accountability and good governance, particularly on the part of public institutions.
What does this award mean to you?
An award signifies the recognition of the effort, accomplishment and contribution that a person or institution has made, and many factors lead to such acknowledgements. The world of central banking is dynamic and requires much dedication and hard work to tackle emerging challenges and expanding mandates. Therefore, receiving an award symbolises the commitment of every team member, irrespective of their position, to helping the institution attain its objectives because we are all essential and depend on one another to progress at an individual and professional level. In my role at the helm of a public institution working to ensure economic and financial stability, navigating the challenges and turning them into triumphs requires a team effort.
For this reason, I am proud of the recognition, but it is much more than a personal achievement. It showcases the barriers we can break and the strides we can make by working together. It also highlights the transformation, growth and maturity we have achieved as an institution. Given the small size of our institution and the remoteness of our islands, such global recognition should also inspire the team to keep persevering, remain resilient and stay focused on achieving our mandated goals and objectives to uphold the institution’s credibility for the betterment of our economy and the country.