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Howai: No blame on Jwala

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Finance and the Economy Minister Larry Howai says he is not blaming Central Bank governor Jwala Rambaran for the recent tightness in the foreign currency supply. He made the comment in a press release in response to a T&T Guardian article on Wednesday headlined ”Blame Jwala,” which was based on the minister’s contribution on the issue during debate on the Finance Bill in the Parliament on Tuesday.


Howai said while he respected the media’s right to journalistic licence to seek perspectives and employ language and treatments meant to be attractive, the headline implied that he stated or suggested Rambaran had “‘committed some wrong’ for which he was to be ‘blamed.’” He said this was incorrect. 


The Minister of Finance and the Economy, said the release, “neither said nor signalled that there was blame to be imputed to the Central Bank for any action that had led to the tightness in the foreign exchange market. His words were, inter alia: ‘The Central Bank had made some changes to the system, and to some extent some of those changes may have impacted and resulted in the situation in which we found ourselves.’”


The release noted that Howai also did not say the bank’s governor intends to or will announce a new foreign exchange allocation system, pointing out that the ministry has been informed by the Central Bank that currently, the foreign exchange market is reported to have an excess of US$89 million. He said he had been informed by the bank that the current system “encourages greater communication between the Central Bank and the banking system, at the level of CEOs and traders.”


The minister was ”reliably led by the Central Bank,” he said, ”to understand that the current system is working, but that if there is need to make any modifications, this will be done in consultation with the banks and other authorised dealers, as has been the practice in the past. “The Central Bank has assured the minister that it continues to monitor the foreign exchange market; also that it has proactively scheduled interventions for the next quarter, starting early in July 2014, to alleviate any pressures which may arise.”



Howai pointed out that the exchange rate policy remains under the purview of the Central Bank, but that as was the norm, there was frequent consultation between the Governor and the Minister of Finance on that and other financial policy matters.


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