Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar opted for youth as her People's Partnership Cabinet yesterday chose 45-year-old financial economist Jwala Rambarran as the new Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. She announced the decision, after two days of deliberations, during a news briefing following the special Cabinet meeting at Coco Reef Hotel, Tobago, yesterday.
Rambarran replaces Ewart Williams, who demits office on Monday. Williams served two five-year terms as head of the financial institution. The T&T Guardian was told yesterday that executive chairman of the Barbados-based CIBC First Caribbean, Michael Mansoor, withdrew from list of candidates which also included former University of the West Indies senior lecturer in economics Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir and chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, economist Dr Patrick Watson.
There was sustained applause from Government ministers and others at the conference room of the hotel yesterday after Persad-Bissessar said: "The Cabinet has made a decision to appoint Mr Jwala Rambarran, financial economist, as the Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago." Ramberran said he was happy to be appointed to the post.
"Thank God, thank the Prime Minister and Cabinet for choosing me to be the next Central Bank Governor. The intention is to build on the work that was done by Governor Williams as we seek to strengthen monetary and financial stability in Trinidad and Tobago," Ramberran said yesterday after his appointment was announced
Rambarran will first meet with the outgoing governor, after which he will get down to business. He said given his knowledge and experience, he will work in the best interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. "I have worked in the Central Bank previously. I have represented the Government at the IMF. So I have a pretty strong understanding of how the T&T economy operates and how the financial sector has to contribute to economic growth and development," he said.
The PM also said she was advised that Rambarran had "sound leadership, negotiation and strategic planning skills and is also a graduate of executive economic and financial training programmes from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, from the IMF Institute and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York." Persad-Bissessar added that Rambarran had work experience at the Central Bank of T&T and with the IMF.
She said he also had "some knowledge and experience with respect to debt rescheduling with the Paris Club." She said only one issue was cause for some consideration in making the appointment-his age. "But the Cabinet was of the view that age should not be a bar to the performance of functions and duties," Persad-Bissessar said.
She said it was her Legal Affairs Minister, Prakash Ramadhar, who told the Cabinet that in the large countries of the world financial systems were collapsing with the older and more experienced central bank governors. The PM said given the global dynamics, "we need a breath of fresh air, new thinking and the dynamism, which we believe Mr Rambarran can bring in these very challenging times."
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Larry Howai extended his full support for the choice of Rambarran as the new Central Bank Governor. Howai said at the Cabinet briefing yesterday that the lengthy process was quite appropriate to ensure the best candidate was selected by the Cabinet. The former banker thanked Williams for his contribution as Central Bank Governor over the past ten years.
He said he looked forward to Rambarran playing a critical role in facilitating the growth and development process in T&T. He said Rambarran was expected to ensure the independence of the Central Bank and also play a critical role "in assisting in the development and growth of the national economy."