PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 24, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government Thursday refused to confirm or deny media reports that Central Bank Governor Jalawa Rambarran has been dismissed from his post.
“I have been saying for the last few weeks that the only person who could comment on the Governor of the Central Bank is the Minister of Finance (Colm Imbert). That position has not changed because of stories appearing in the newspaper,” Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
Efforts to contact Imbert have so far proven futile.
Both the Trinidad Express and the Trinidad Guardian newspapers reported Thursday that Rambarran, who earlier this month announced that Trinidad and Tobago had “officially” gone into recession” was dismissed after Cabinet took a decision to recommend to the President that his employment be terminated.
President Anthony Carmona is overseas on vacation and Senate President Christine Kangaloo is acting as President. Under the Constitution she has all the powers of the President and therefore is the competent authority to act upon the Cabinet’s recommendation.
The Trinidad Express reported that one of the key factors affecting the Cabinet’s decision was that the Government had several legal opinions which indicated Rambarran had breached the provisions of the Central Bank Act and the Financial Institutions Act.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, speaking on radio here, said that he had no difficulty with the statement made by the Central Bank Governor that the country had gone into recession since during the election campaign his party had always indicated that the economy had become stagnant.
“You have to diagnose properly before you can prescribe and we were of the view that the economy was not growing. We went through an election campaign…and during that period we were saying that the economy was not growing. The government of the day was saying it was growing, the minister of finance was saying it was growing by 1.2 per cent and we were saying we were not seeing this.
“So we are not surprised to hear that the country is now in a recession that the country was in a recession for the last year, what we were surprised is that we only now being told from those quarters,” Rowley said, adding that his administration still does not have any official “number’ to indicate the oil rich republic is in a recession.
“We don’t see the numbers as I speak to you now I have not seen the numbers, all I have I that he say so, the governor of the Central Bank. I am saying I am not surprised to hear that and I would like to see the numbers.
“However we have been in a situation where numbers on the performance of the economy have not been available,” he said recalling his first days as an opposition legislator here dating back to 1987 “and all the way up until a few years ago, I always argued in the Parliament on the basis of documents presented…which showed the performance of the economy in a variety of areas…
“Right now we are in a downturn of some kind, how far down we don’t know except looking at the prices on the revenue side but we don’t have the actual numbers and that is an unacceptable situation,” he said, noting that it is the responsibility of the government through its agencies to provide the numbers.
“We ought to have those numbers coming to us from the Central Statistical Office. That office has not been properly functioning for years and we were again in the opposition saying that this is deliberate because the government did not want us to have the actual numbers and we are now confined to taking and dealing with what the minister say,” he added.
The Trinidad Guardian newspaper reported that while Rambarran enjoyed support from the Opposition and even gained support in the form of an online petition to keep him in office, his continued clashes with the Government made his position irretrievable.
The private sector had complained publicly at the decision by Rambarran to name a few companies which he said had used up a significant amount of foreign exchange resulting in at least one conglomerate signalling its intention to take legal action against the embattled governor for that alleged breach of confidentiality.