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Fixin T&T: Fire Central Bank governor Jwala Rambarran immediately

Civic watchdog group, Fixin’ T&T, has called for the immediate dismissal of Central Bank governor Jwala Rambarran, as a result of his supposed “demonstrated and ongoing incompetence” and “recent breach of confidentiality” with regards to his disclosure of Trinidad and Tobago’s large users of foreign exchange.

Photo: United States dollars. (Courtesy Shutterstock)
Photo: United States dollars.
(Courtesy Shutterstock)

The following is the full press release from Fixin’ T&T:

FIXIN’ T&T calls on the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago to take decisive action and instruct His Excellency The President to revoke the appointment of Central Bank governor Jwala Rambarran with immediate effect.

His demonstrated and ongoing incompetence from mishandling the foreign exchange market to his recent breach of confidentiality must be brought to an abrupt end.

This Office of the Central Bank Governor must enjoy the confidence of all stakeholders including the Government, the Business Community, the Banking Community and the General Public at large. Once said confidence is shaken, that position becomes untenable.

We note that the Chamber, DOMA and the BATT have only now, after years of untold damage done, found their voices on this matter.

Photo: Central Bank governor Jwala Rambarran. (Courtesy news.gov.tt)
Photo: Central Bank governor Jwala Rambarran.
(Courtesy news.gov.tt)

The following is the Central Bank’s response to criticisms:

Following the biannual Monetary Policy Forum on the 4th December 2015, the Governor of the Central Bank has been subject to widespread criticism for the dissemination of certain information to the public at large as it pertains to the usage of foreign exchange by the business community. Such dissemination has been inaccurately deemed a “breach of confidentiality” by certain groups within the private and financial sector.

Highly prejudicial and misconceived statements have also been made that the Governor has acted contrary to and in breach of his statutory mandate. In fact, in arriving at the decision to release this information and acting in accordance with its statutory mandate, the Central Bank weighed a variety of competing interests. This balancing exercise involved the weighing of the public’s right to be duly informed of the use of a limited national financial resource against private sector interests, desirous of privacy in such matters.

For the sake of clarity, the Central Bank places on record that its decision to disclose the said information to the public was necessary for the due performance of its objects and determined that such disclosure was in the best interest of the financial system of Trinidad and Tobago as well as the depositors, other customers, creditors and shareholders of the appropriate financial institutions.

Photo: DOMA president Gregory Aboud. (Courtesy YouTube)
Photo: DOMA president Gregory Aboud.
(Courtesy YouTube)

It is in this regard that the Central Bank seeks to sternly address and correct such criticism and further reject the baseless allegations arising therefrom. These allegations erroneously suggest that the recent release by the Central Bank of data which detail and demystify the principal consumers of the country’s foreign exchange reserves, have had the consequent effect of breaching duties of confidentiality.

Those who have articulated this view have curiously failed and/or neglected to properly reference, consider and evaluate the Central Bank’s full statutory mandate which guides and governs its independent functions.

The Central Bank hastens to record and remind of the relevant and applicable statutory provisions which empower it in the due performance of its objects to make such information available to the public as it considers appropriate:

The Central Bank Act Chap. 79:02

“56. (1) Except in so far as may be necessary for the due performance of its objects, and subject to section 8 of the Financial Institutions Act, every director, officer and employee of the Bank shall preserve and aid in preserving secrecy with regard to all matters relating to the affairs of the Bank, any financial institution or person registered under the Insurance Act or of any customers thereof that may come to his knowledge in the course of his duties.”

Photo: Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
Photo: Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

The Financial Institutions Act Chap. 79:09

Confidentiality. Sect 8(6): “Where the Central Bank determines that the disclosure of further information concerning a licensee in addition to that referred to in subsection (5) would be in the best interests of— (a) the financial system of Trinidad and Tobago; or (b) the depositors, other customers, creditors or shareholders of such licensee, the Central Bank or any person acting under the direction of the Central Bank may disclose such information by publication in the Gazette and in at least two daily newspapers published and circulated in Trinidad and Tobago or by any other means that the Central Bank considers appropriate.”

The Central Bank is of the considered view that the use of the country’s precious foreign exchange reserves, which come from finite and non-renewable oil and gas resources, is an issue of public concern and justifies the dissemination of the identity of the main recipients to whom such reserves are distributed. The actions of the Central Bank are well in keeping with its position to maintain transparency and accountability to the citizenry of this country within its statutory obligations.

The Central Bank notes the disclosure did not take place in isolation or in prevailing circumstances of societal disinterest toward this issue. Instead, it served as a clear response to the sustained and intense public outcry for information on the major recipients of foreign exchange and which accordingly called for a justified, reasoned and proportionate response.

Photo: The bustling Charlotte Street in downtown Port of Spain. (Copyright Flickr)
Photo: The bustling Charlotte Street in downtown Port of Spain.
(Copyright Flickr)

The Central Bank fully considers and appreciates the views and opinions of all sectors of society, inclusive of special interest lobby groups, however, it cannot abdicate its legislative duties and responsibilities to the public at large in favour of institutions seeking to champion their own interests above the national interest.

Noted also are the concerns of certain quarters that the said disclosure has set a dangerous precedent. The Central Bank wishes to specifically denounce this assertion and maintains that the lawful and necessary disclosure of such crucial information to the wider public should never be classified as such.

The Central Bank remains an independent national institution integral to the financial architecture of Trinidad and Tobago and stands as the guardian of the country’s economic and financial stability.

It is in this light that the Central Bank has effected the strategic decisions which it has thus far and will continue to do so in the public interest and in the furtherance of its legislative mandate.

About Fixin TT

Fixin TT
Fixin T&T's mission is the realization of good governance to achieve healthy, holistic, and fulfilling lifestyles for all citizens through the study, promotion, and furtherance of strong democratic institutions; sound infrastructure; integrity in public and corporate affairs; and a culture of respect by all for the laws and regulations of the country to create a safe, secure, efficient and productive Trinidad & Tobago.

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66 comments

  1. Hmmmmm I wonder who wrote that? Was it the Communication’s Officer (wink wink).

  2. In other words Central Bank is telling us “Hush allyuh stink mouth” …. This is an insult to the intelligence of the citizens of T&T … get rid of these anarchists NOW!!!

  3. Central Bank responds:
    Following the biannual Monetary Policy Forum on the 4th December 2015, the Governor of the Central Bank has been subject to widespread criticism for the dissemination of certain information to the public at large as it pertains to the usage of foreign exchange by the business community. Such dissemination has been inaccurately deemed a “breach of confidentiality” by certain groups within the private and financial sector.

    Highly prejudicial and misconceived statements have also been made that the Governor has acted contrary to and in breach of his statutory mandate. In fact, in arriving at the decision to release this information and acting in accordance with its statutory mandate, the Central Bank weighed a variety of competing interests. This balancing exercise involved the weighing of the public’s right to be duly informed of the use of a limited national financial resource against private sector interests, desirous of privacy in such matters.

    For the sake of clarity, the Central Bank places on record that its decision to disclose the said information to the public was necessary for the due performance of its objects and determined that such disclosure was in the best interest of the financial system of Trinidad and Tobago as well as the depositors, other customers, creditors and shareholders of the appropriate financial institutions.

    It is in this regard that the Central Bank seeks to sternly address and correct such criticism and further reject the baseless allegations arising therefrom. These allegations erroneously suggest that the recent release by the Central Bank of data which detail and demystify the principal consumers of the country’s foreign exchange reserves, have had the consequent effect of breaching duties of confidentiality. Those who have articulated this view have curiously failed and/or neglected to properly reference, consider and evaluate the Central Bank’s full statutory mandate which guides and governs its independent functions.

    The Central Bank hastens to record and remind of the relevant and applicable statutory provisions which empower it in the due performance of its objects to make such information available to the public as it considers appropriate:

    The Central Bank Act Chap. 79:02

    “56. (1) Except in so far as may be necessary for the due performance of its objects, and subject to section 8 of the Financial Institutions Act, every director, officer and employee of the Bank shall preserve and aid in preserving secrecy with regard to all matters relating to the affairs of the Bank, any financial institution or person registered under the Insurance Act or of any customers thereof that may come to his knowledge in the course of his duties.”

    The Financial Institutions Act Chap. 79:09

    Confidentiality. Sect 8(6): “Where the Central Bank determines that the disclosure of further information concerning a licensee in addition to that referred to in subsection (5) would be in the best interests of— (a) the financial system of Trinidad and Tobago; or (b) the depositors, other customers, creditors or shareholders of such licensee, the Central Bank or any person acting under the direction of the Central Bank may disclose such information by publication in the Gazette and in at least two daily newspapers published and circulated in Trinidad and Tobago or by any other means that the Central Bank considers appropriate.”

    The Central Bank is of the considered view that the use of the country’s precious foreign exchange reserves, which come from finite and non-renewable oil and gas resources, is an issue of public concern and justifies the dissemination of the identity of the main recipients to whom such reserves are distributed. The actions of the Central Bank are well in keeping with its position to maintain transparency and accountability to the citizenry of this country within its statutory obligations.

    The Central Bank notes the disclosure did not take place in isolation or in prevailing circumstances of societal disinterest toward this issue. Instead, it served as a clear response to the sustained and intense public outcry for information on the major recipients of foreign exchange and which accordingly called for a justified, reasoned and proportionate response.

    The Central Bank fully considers and appreciates the views and opinions of all sectors of society, inclusive of special interest lobby groups, however, it cannot abdicate its legislative duties and responsibilities to the public at large in favour of institutions seeking to champion their own interests above the national interest.

    Noted also are the concerns of certain quarters that the said disclosure has set a dangerous precedent. The Central Bank wishes to specifically denounce this assertion and maintains that the lawful and necessary disclosure of such crucial information to the wider public should never be classified as such.

    The Central Bank remains an independent national institution integral to the financial architecture of Trinidad and Tobago and stands as the guardian of the country’s economic and financial stability. It is in this light that the Central Bank has effected the strategic decisions which it has thus far and will continue to do so in the public interest and in the furtherance of its legislative mandate.

    • It may also be that some of the criticism was based on there being no precedent in the past for such disclosure. But we have to be mindful that we have never had such sustained and inefficient demand for US$ currency. So small and local businesses suffer while multinationals suffer. Was there any attempt to satisfy needs of majority? One conglomerate who is on the list twice was complaining about shortage. In any event, this just shows we need to increase our export-provide support (marketing, IT, staff, technology) for co’s already exporting and bringing in foreign currency. Btw, where is the Ministry of Trade in all this? In my mind, trade implies a two way street; how many of our local companies export; can we assist them to increase their exports. If they need resources, I hope the demand for US$ from the manufacturing sector was satisfied.

    • That’s how the Central Bank responded, with subtle hostility?

      I find this release to be very passive aggressive. It would have been so much more professional had the first three paragraphs been omitted!

    • Vernal Damion Cadogan like him or don’t like Jwala, the situation brings the BANK into disrepute as he represents them. So they do have to look after their image as well

    • Passive aggressively sending verbal bards at it’s critics isn’t becoming of an institution such as the Central Bank.

      They can clarify, not insult.

    • Wrong and strong Imo. All the companies listed are ligitimate enterprises operating in this country for decades, they import what we the consumers buy. What we really need to know is the big buyers of US who are not engaged in any real identifiable commercial activities, re import/export, but may be just exporting and hoarding our limited forex to secret accounts all over the world..

  4. Lasana
    Below is the last sentence from the October 29th Media Release from the Central Bank:
    “Trinidad and Tobago’s net official reserves remain comfortable and currently stand at US$10.1
    billion, equivalent to almost one year’s worth of imports.”

    I am not sure why the industries and companies on this list is of surprise to anyone. The companies and industries are importers of goods; goods that require US$, Euro’s and pounds to purchase. They can not purchase the foreign goods that WE grave with TT$. The US$ is the world reserve currency utilized for pricing goods and services that all those companies have to purchase and IMPORT then sell to Trinbagonians in TT$. Whatever, we feel about these companies, Central Bank Governor or FOREX management we have to look in the mirror. The larger issue is how do we develop our export sectors, its not probable we will manufacturer cars and heavy equipment but their are opportunities in other sectors. Once we have significant exports beyond the energy sector, those goods will be priced in US$ which will improve our reserve positions. If we do not have the courage to invest in ourselves, in an environment with depressed energy prices we could be headed to devaluing the TT$. When coupled with our continued addiction to foreign goods, a downward spiraling value of the TT$ could occur. We must limit imports and increase exports beyond the energy sector, no Central Bank Governor can impose a monetary policy that will be successful unless we finally do what we have been talking about for 20 years. However, the GOTT can increase tariffs in specific sectors to make those sectors economically viable locally. COURAGE!!

    That said, I will say that the current CB Governor, Jwala Rambarran statements, decisions and processes does not inspire nor leave you with confidence. I am not aware of the governance limits of the Board but there are 2 Deputy Governors and 5 other Board members so this can not simply be placed at Jwala’s feet. Unless of course the governance structure of the Board empowers him to be in a position warranting the blame.

    • Lasana Liburd

      Excellent points Sean. But part of the problem is we don’t trust some of these local businessmen and their extortionate prices. That is what has forced many to shop online, for instance.
      We don’t encourage growth locally in many sectors. Including areas that we can excel such as culture. And maybe sport tourism.

  5. He’s completely incompetent and had he a shred of honor he would have resigned.
    His sole purpose for remaining is to sabotage.

  6. No way. Jwala is the real boss.

  7. so why blame the governor ,he does not control the spending of trinis, he should also expose the amt.of online shopping

  8. So now that we know who are the biggest users of our FE, we now have a choice and if we continue to support these big users with our FE then so be it, we will live with the consequences.

    • What’s the alternative though? Where do I find a Trini made TV? I try to buy local wherever I can, but how much of the stuff we use do we make here? Unless we decide to go back to donkey carts (for which we’ll still need to import said donkeys), wood and thatch houses etc, I don’t see a change. We can demonize those big businesses if we want to, but their use of USD is largely driven by our demand.

      Yes we need to decide but, what are the alternatives?

  9. It’s amazing to me to see people blame Pricesmart for selling what TT consumers are buying.

  10. The main consumers are actually the retail sector. Guess who they are selling to? They can’t sell what Trinbagonians won’t buy.

  11. There is no need to remove the CB governor the MoF must manage the situation better than he is currently doing. Citizens want to know how much of their FE is being spent and who are the biggest spenders of our FE. If there is a law against the CB governor from providing this information then change the damn law. Why is it that the manufacturing sector does not want the population to know how they are spending our FE?

    • Why? So many laws, so many law breakers. All the laws are useless, man is still self serving, The law is only for some people. If the law is not applicable to me, change it? Isn’t it for ALL? Laws govern in institutions, everyone should abide by the laws. Simple. I’m not arguing just a thought.

    • Pc Gomez My statement was made in the context of others referring to a law that the CB governor may have violated. I support the information provided by the CB governor, nothing more, therefore if others are saying that he is prevented from providing the information because of a law, then change the damn law. We need to know how much of our FE is being spent and by whom.

    • I understood that, but you are saying the public needs to know such, why wasn’t this sentiment aired before this drama? Just thinking we cannot change institution laws every time something Like this happens, just like the CEG CANNOT be removed until his contractual arrangement is completed , guess we should change that too huh? Lol!

    • Brian Chambers the only reason I think the manufacturing sector is so upset to share this info is dishonesty in taxes or little compensation to employees/social responsibility programs. E.g Name one sport, event, culture group that Pricesmart assists with their US$ 200M turnover?

    • There is still the fact that the Central Bank governor told the country that it is in a recession, just before Christmas, without bothering to inform the Minister of Finance first.
      I appreciate the independence of his office. But he must know the repercussions of his statement and ought to have had dialogue with several stakeholders out of at least courtesy I think.
      I’m not saying that is a sackable offence. But it makes me question his motives.

    • Lasana Liburd I agree there are many other issues for the CB governor to answer to, including the recession announcement and FE management.

    • I heard them speak of sending it to the DPP because of the penalties of the laws he broke in giving out the information. We’ll see where that goes.

    • I am curious…the Minister, from what I read, is waiting on official confirmation from the CSO-we know how up to date those measures are. So when are we going to implement measures to deal with the fallout-when we get ‘official confirmation’ of what we ought to have known? Right or wrong to disclose some of the names, I agree this situation is distasteful the way it is being handled in public. And we are supposed to have confidence in these induviduals to manage our economy?

    • I really would need to follow up on the perimeters of his job better. There is one argument that his remit does not include sharing information on private companies.
      But I don’t know for sure.
      So I’m not sure if it is he is refusing to be muzzled or if he has gone rogue.

    • Rogue or not shows us where our own interests lie. Have you seen the stocks at some of these places? Maybe this should now shock us into being more discerning

    • Lasana he probably did consult with stakeholders before and was told that it would not be wise to tell the public. If he was to repeat the exercise who is to say he wouldnt be muzzled again considering the groups that are now up in arms.

    • Lasana Liburd this is the man who refused to provide information on the apparently 200 people he hired at the CBTT on contract!

  12. Does the President have the power to remove the CB Governor?

  13. Not saying the governor should not be removed but this Forex info should have been public awhile! The amount of unsettling conspiracies I heard… Big Fish & Drugs, Political Financiers, Chinese black market, Ministers hoarding etc. when it’s mostly been lost to public consumption.

  14. Of how the US$ is being utilized. I see our President did raise a concern in an article headlined ‘Is US$ falling into wrong hands?’ Express 15 Dec 2015 pg 4. Maybe the governor did not need to call the names of the companies but the nation does need to have some accountability and transparency.

  15. I would have been interested Iï getting a breakdown of usage by sectors-businesses, university fees, travel, business, credit card fees, etc to get a better picture

  16. He was supposed to be fired sept 8

    Now it gonna look slightly bad

  17. I think he should go but for a completely different reason though. He should go because nobody takes out photographs with clenched fist below chin again. That proves that you’re out of sync.

  18. He breached the Confidentiality code, by calling banking institutuon names. Why not let the banks sue him

    • Did he call banking institution names or high FE users?

    • Not banks…
      Trinidad Guardian Excerpt: Rambarran identified the top users of foreign exchange in the country over the last three years. They are as follows:

      Top Five Users in Retail and Distribution
      • PriceSmart – US$507 million
      • Courts – US$198 million
      • Smith Robertson & Company – US$169 million
      • AS Bryden – US$153 million
      • Massy Distribution – US$136 million

      Top Five Users in Manufacturing
      • Nestle – US$194 million
      • Witco – US$129 million
      • Carib – US$107 million
      • National Flour Mills – US$102 million
      • Caribbean Bottlers (Coca Cola) – US$94 million

      Top Five Users in Automobile Dealerships
      • Southern Sales – US$275 million
      • Massy Motors – US$251 million
      • Toyota – US$245 million
      • Diamond Motors – US$59 million
      • Lifestyle Motors – US$36 million

      Top Three Users in Telecommunications
      • TSTT – US$294 million
      • Digicel – US$263 million
      • Columbus Communications – US$250 million

    • Nonsense

      Forex came from the treasury

      It supposed to be public knowledge

      We need more transparency

    • There’s no breach of confidentiality code in my opinion. Public funds were used and it vanished as quickly as it appeared, thereby causing anxiety and concern. Taxpayers and the general public has a vested interest in public funds and how it is expended. Therefore, since we are de facto stakeholders we have an inherent right to know.

    • These are all financiers one way or the other and our politicians are dancing to their tune. DOMA should also shut it.

    • Umm, when you purchase US from a banking institution for your private enterprise how is that still public money? Maybe he should send out a long list of every single individual who bought US , or the banks should help him and put all their customers info in the public domain..

    • This issue sure does create a great discussion point Darren.

  19. THIS is a lawsuit we should accept…fire him, he’s going to sue and lets figure it out in court. That cost may be worth it compared to the damage he may do.

  20. About damn time. No confidence. None.