It is pleasing to know that our Governor of the Central Bank, Dr DeLisle Worrell, has finally seen the light at the end of our dark and dreary, economic tunnel, and that he can actually boast of growth for a change, even if it is only in order of 0.03 per cent.
A pity, though, his good cheer does not seem to extend to his treatment of the Press.
It has certainly not gone unnoticed by us, the scant respect shown this week by the Governor to members of the local Press corps, who were unceremoniously disinvited, without explanation, from his quarterly news conference.
A statement issued by the senior administrative assistant in the Governor’s office simply said: “Please note that there is no news conference this quarter.”
Ironically, this is the same Governor, who has just returned home from an extensive overseas tour to the major investment capitals last month, where he appeared to embrace every available opportunity for face-to-face time with the international media.
In fact, there was no evidence of any dodging of cameras or attempts to escape the glare of the international television cameras. On the contrary, both he and his travelling partner Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler were featured in an in-depth, on-camera interview at the Global Borrowers And Investors Forum
from June 24 to 25 at the Hilton On Park Lane, London.
And it would seem they so relished the opportunity that the Governor’s office sought afterwards to ensure the interview got maximum publicity at home. It was shared via electronic link on June 27.
Interestingly, the Governor said pretty much the same thing to the international media that he reported in yesterday’s quarterly Press statement.
He was of the view then, as he is now, that this island had “turned the corner”, but warned that the recovery process would be slow, based on the Central Bank’s own projection of slight economic growth in 2014 of about 0.3 per cent and a pickup in subsequent years of 1.2 per cent in 2015 and 2.5 per cent in 2016.
Yet it is a slap in the face for the Governor to rob the Barbados media of the opportunity to quiz him on the bank’s assessment of our economic performance. The international media at the Global Borrowers And Investment Forum certainly were given that opportunity, and we here in Barbados, among the taxpaying public who underwrite the Governor’s monthly salary, are just as worthy of an audience with the head of our Central Bank.
It smacks of nothing short of snobbery for us to be treated otherwise –– and especially with the country so precariously perched economically.
In the absence of his customary quarterly news conference, many questions have gone abegging.
Like what is the true state of our unemployment? How does the Governor explain, for instance, a glaring difference between his 11.7 per cent rate of joblessness and the 13.2 per cent figure as at the end of last year, published by the country’s Statistical Department?
What is the true state of our tourism performance, given that long-stay arrivals as at June were down 0.2 per cent and cruise visitors by 3.6 per cent?
Furthermore, will we ever get to hear the Governor’s view on the new Municipal Solid Waste Tax?
Does he support it, or would he seek to rubbish it in much the same way he has dismissed the Government’s main cash cow –– the Value Added Tax?
Maybe that’s the reason why he would rather avoid the Press at this stage. It could be that Governor Worrell is still bruising from his last outing with the media, and the blows that he got, from both inside and outside of his office, for his unexplainable attack on the VAT.
So incensed were some over that unforgettable episode, that they were heard to be saying in other than whispered tones that maybe the Government should do away with the Governor rather than the VAT.
So this could very well be one of the reasons why he chose to keep reporters at bay this week.
With no reason forthcoming for his decision, we can only speculate.
But one would hope that it had nothing at all to do with his recent spat with that other newspaper, and his threat to ban them from any future Press conferences over a bit of carelessness in their reporting.
To punish us all for that would be far too unfortunate –– not to mention appallingly petty.
Let’s hope that, in the spirit of Crop Over, the Governor helps us all to see the light very soon again.