The signature of the incumbent governor of the Central Bank of T&T (CBTT) will appear on $6 billion worth of local currency, Jwala Rambarran told students of Fatima College in Woodbrook. Invited as distinguished alumnus to give the keynote address at the school’s recent prize giving ceremony, Rambarran said: “In case you are wondering what I do, let’s keep it simple and let me show you some of my swag bodyguards and VIP treatment (outside). It is my signature that appears on your $100 bill.
My signature will appear on approximately $6 billion worth of currency in active circulation over the next few years. I am only the seventh local person in the Central Bank’s 50-year history to have his signature appear on our money.”
He added: “Apart from the swag, I am responsible for other serious matters: protecting many of our financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies; controlling inflation, which helps to keep down the price of your lunch in the school cafeteria; managing the country’s foreign exchange reserves including the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF), which is basically a government savings account for your children; and managing the T&T economy.”
Sprinkling humour throughout his address, with at least three references to thoughts about teenage girls who he speculated were occupying the young men’s minds instead of his speech, Rambarran gave the boys three key messages:
• The strength of your character and values will be tested every day. People will test your virtues in the smallest and subtlest of ways. Don’t stray from the value system you learnt at home and at Fatima College.
• What kind of man do you want to be? Make a difference to your country by making the right choices and by being responsible with the power you will attain in the next few years.
• Do not become a financial demon who believes ‘greed is good.’ Will you be guided by greed or by God?
Here in T&T, Rambarran said, “we have seen the results of unethical choices made by leaders of collapsed financial institutions that have not only burdened economies, but have also devastated the lives of many families.” “The Commission of Enquiry into the failure of CL Financial and the Hindu Credit Union revealed poor moral and ethical conduct on the part of the leaders of these institutions,” he said.
The Central Bank Governor told the Fatima boys that “as future leaders of this country, you must be vigilant, and not allow such a travesty to occur again”. Rambarran, who received his primary education at Montrose Vedic School, also told the students: “As a matter of fact, my experience at Fatima College taught me to value my Indian heritage even more and to have even greater respect for different cultures, religions and beliefs.”
In winding up his speech, he said: “So the next time you reach for a $100 bill and you catch a glimpse of my signature, or in years to come you find yourself in a situation where you are tempted to lie, cheat or steal to get some more blue notes, check the signature, it may not be mine anymore, but hopefully it will trigger you to remember my words, ‘what kind of man do you want to be’ and you will think twice about your name, your family’s name and your alma mater’s reputation and make the right choice.”