FSM official proposes a supervisory college for island institutions

Photo: Bank of Guam

The banking commissioner of the Federated States of Micronesia wants to open a “bank for banks,” but while it will focus on money, it won’t store a cent. Instead, it will store a wealth of information that financial institutions – namely, banks in Micronesia – can tap into.

FSM banking commissioner Jesse Giltamag approached Guam Banking and Insurance Board commissioner Michele Santos with the idea.

“He would like to start a supervisory college for the banks in our area,” Santos told board members during their March meeting. “He’s been working with the neighboring islands to start that. Guam would have to take the lead on that. Bank of Guam has the most presence in the islands, so they would have to take the lead on that.”

Santos, who last spoke to Giltamag in December, said she expressed interest in the idea.

“I have been talking to him. We’ve met a couple times. I did meet him in Honolulu on a trip on the way back, and we talked again. He’s still very adamant about forming this supervisory college for the islands. (It) seems positive. I’m open to hearing him out and seeing what Guam can benefit from this,” she added.

The idea did raise some questions from another board member, Dean Manglona, an attorney with Civille & Tang PLLC. Manglona asked if the supervisory college would be a requirement for all banks, “or their executives,” to join.

“It would be like a membership … where we share information – ideas and information,” Santos said. “It’s basically to help each other.”

Other questions posed by Manglona still await answers, including what standards the supervisory college would follow.

Regulatory programmes administrator Alice Sebastian-Cruz stressed that “it’s just being conceptualised.”

“Nothing has been talked about,” she said, later adding, “He just approached the commissioner, because he really wants the commissioner to take the lead on this. But as far as concepts, we have not touched that.”

Manglona said he is not opposed to the idea of a supervisory college, clarifying that he was “just asking.”

Santos did assure Manglona and other board members that federal financial regulatory entities support the FSM banking commissioner’s idea.

“(Giltamag) mentioned that the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, they’re all for it,” she said. “So this is something he is talking to everybody about. They’re very positive. They want to assist us. But the concept is really just to share regulatory information and discuss the issues concerning the banks. FDIC also pledged assistance.”

According to Santos, Giltamag wants Guam to serve in a leadership capacity as the chair or secretariat of the supervisory college.

“They are very excited about it. It will involve some traveling. I don’t know if they will come here or we would go there, but he is making all the arrangements. But Bank of Guam has to be on board with this. They’re the ones with the presence in the islands,” she said. Bank of Guam officials confirmed they were approached with the idea, telling The Guam Daily Post on Friday, “Our team continues to look into it. At this time no decision has been made.”