T&T PM issues stringing attack on Central Bank governor

(Trinidad Guardian) Support from the Opposition and an online petition may not be enough to keep Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran in office.

In a stinging statement yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said that Rambarran has engaged in a series of “reckless and even illegal” actions during his time as governor which made “his own situation untenable.”

Rowley, in a text exchange with the Sunday Guardian yesterday, said the media “missed the point” of his statements in Parliament on Friday and sought to further clarify the context of his debate contribution on the future of the Central Bank governor.

Rowley said contrary to media reports that his Government would not take action against Rambarran, the Government now has to act to protect the citizenry,

“The Government would simply be responding to protect the wider public interest,” Rowley said.

Jwala Rambarran
Jwala Rambarran

Rowley reiterated his denial that his Government was seeking to “hound” Rambarran out of office but said that Rambarran was in an “untenable” situation.

Hours after the media reports of Rowley’s contribution in Parliament Friday night, the Office of the Prime Minister sought to clarify the misinformation that Rambarran’s position was safe.

“The report in the media stating that the Prime Minister has told the Parliament that Government has no intention of dismissing the Governor of the Central Bank is entirely incorrect and is a patent misrepresentation of what was said in the House,” the release said.

“In response to a question as to whether the Government was taking action which could result in the dismissal of the Governor of the Central Bank the Hon Prime Minister replied that if any action was being taken which could result in the Governor being dismissed ‘such action was not being taken by the Government’,” the statement noted.

However, it added that “if it turns out that the Governor is dismissed it would be as a result of a series of his own actions and not by any action initiated by the Government. The Government would wish to make it quite clear that no public officer, regardless of what office he or she may hold, is beyond the requisite disciplinary procedures which are open to the employer acting lawfully in the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago”.

“The statement was issued immediately upon my observation that the media missed my point,” Rowley told the Sunday Guardian.

“If the Governor ends up being removed, it would not be because of any action initiated by the Government but as a result of his own series of reckless and illegal actions,” Rowley said in a text to the Sunday Guardian.

Speaking at the PNM’s children’s Christmas treat yesterday, Rowley said the issue was “diminishing the public’s confidence in the Central Bank’s ability to conduct public’s business in finance, and two, diminishing the public’s confidence in the Governor himself. If the Government allows this to continue unimpeded it will diminish the population’s confidence in the Government itself.”

Rowley said there are laws which govern the conduct of the Central Bank affairs.

“If the Governor breaches those laws then the Minister of Finance would have to look at the matter….and the Minister of Finance is looking at the matter.”

Rowley said he trusts that good sense will prevail.

On Wednesday, the Opposition Leader, former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, defended Rambarran, saying that he was being “hounded” out of office by the People’s National Movement (PNM) Government. Rambarran was appointed by the People’s Partnership on Friday, July 13, 2012, after a series of meetings at a governmental retreat in Tobago. Two years later, Rambarran implemented a revision of the 20-year old foreign exchange allocation system, increasing the number of financial institutions accessing forex from eight to 12. Rambarran came under fire earlier in the month for announcing that the country was in a recession without first informing Finance Minister Colm Imbert. Rambarran also faced criticism from the business sector and Chamber of Commerce for revealing the companies utilising the largest chunk of foreign exchange. Rambarran is also facing possible legal action by the Massy conglomerate for breaching confidentiality when he revealed the names of the companies using forex.

The Sunday Guardian attempted to contact both Rambarran and Central Bank communications manager Charlene Ramdhanie by mobile phone and email but was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, president of the Penal/Debe Chamber of Commerce Shiva Roopnarine is calling on Rambarran and Minister of Finance Colm Imbert to settle the debate privately.

Roopnarine also said there needs to be a clear and precise message sent to the population on the current state of the economy.

He said, “There is a need to stop posturing and turf-protecting.”

He was addressing members of various chambers of commerce and the banking sector on Friday night at an awards function at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts.

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