The local press carried a story this week titled Worrell advised to meet press that addressed the unbelievable occurrence of the Governor of the Central Bank DeLisle Worrell not having held a press conference since the first quarter of 2014. Instead, he has preferred an orchestrated TV event where individuals were cherrypicked to participate in a moderated Q&A session.
It does not require anyone to be overly endowed with intelligence to expect our key decision makers to be accessible to answer questions from the public during a protracted economic downturn. Surely they understand that it is important to allay concerns and infuse confidence in the citizens by articulating a message of hope – see The King’s Speech. The independent office of Governor of the Central Bank is where the font of hope should be gushing. Unfortunately what we have had to witness for the last six or seven years is a central bank whose reputation has been severely dented by several unusual decisions by Governor Worrell made worse by minister of finance Chris Sinckler. There was the unusual appointment of Bjerkham to the Board of the Central Bank. The dividend payout of 25 million from the Housing Credit Fund to an affiliated company of Bjerkham for construction of the GROTTO high rise apartments. And who can forget the decision by the Governor to challenge the state agency responsible for determining the unemployment statistic.
BU agrees with Dr. Clyde Mascoll when he tabled the view in his weekly column that:-
Perhaps, what is more important is the structure of the board that oversees the functioning of the bank itself. The time has truly come to reconsider the governor being the chairman of the board. Furthermore, the composition of the board ought to better recognise the specialised areas of the bank’s activities. No man is an island.
The Central Bank is too important an institution for the idiosyncrasies of an individual to take priority. As if to emphasize that his way is the right way, he disregarded the advice from former bankers Mariano Browne and Jwala Rambarran who are based in Trinidad to meet with the press. He issued another press release to the media with a foreboding message. Eight years of economic verboseness and still more belt tightening asked of Barbadians. How long is too long …
While BU agree with those calling for the Governor to condescend to meet the local press corp, we are concerned that local ‘journalists’ selected in the past to attend Central Bank economic press briefings have been woefully short of the standard required to deliver on their mandate. Further, there is an important role to be played by financial journalists. Who will disagree that managing a small open economy is a challenging undertaking. It is important we have journalists comfortable in the financial arena to report on the issues to effectively inform citizens. Instead what we have is a dearth of talent in the area of financial reporting that politicians and others in civil society easily exploit. Even if our media houses were to send senior journalists like a David Ellis, Stetson Babb, Roy Morris, Jewel Brathwaite, Kaymar Jordan et al -these are journalists with a general knowledge of financial reporting. The only competent financial journalist is Patrick Hoyos. Is our investment in education failing us as a nation?
Perhaps the solution is to invite journalists from Trinidad to attend the Central Bank economic review press briefings.