With the jury still out on whether Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell will actually be sacked or not, the local business community is calling for an urgent resolution to the current legal wrangling at the helm of the country’s monetary authority.
A day after details emerged of a nasty fallout between the Governor and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler that is now to be decided in the law courts, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddy Abed said he was anxious for the dispute to be resolved, since “it is not desirable that we have, at this level” a public row between the two managers of the economy.
Equally concerned were Executive Director of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) Henderson Holmes and Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association Charles Herbert who both agreed with Abed that the current uncertainty at the Central Bank could only spell more bad news for this island’s ailing economy.
Abed pointed out that the country’s foreign reserves were already in a “perilous state” and given the threat of a currency devaluation, he warned that now was not the time for the Central Bank to be at the centre of any lengthy internal court battle.
“We are also extremely concerned about not only how we got to this worrying situation, but also what has been happening in terms of printing money, essentially for our current expenditure,” Abed said, while pointing to the Governor’s recent revelation that Government would not have been in a position to pay civil servants without resorting to the printing of money.
“So there is nothing from the Governor’s statements, there is nothing from what I have seen of the financials for the country that gives me any hope that not only are we going to deal with our deficit in a meaningful way going forward, but more importantly, our reserves continue to go in the wrong direction and the paths of some foreign direct investment that we have been hearing about there is no short-term measure to bolster those reserves,” the concerned businessmen said.
As it relates to the continuing saga between the Minister of Finance and the Governor, he said: “Quite frankly, it should never have been exposed in the public.
“It should be dealt with behind closed doors to protect the integrity of this country”, Abed insisted, adding that “the associated problems, commentaries and information reaching the business community compound what is already a worrying situation and makes it extremely alarming”.
In recent weeks, the Governor, who had been under pressure to explain the country’s dwindling economic fortunes, has called for the printing of money to stop and for the Freundel Stuart administration to embark on immediate expenditure cuts.
This has coincided with rising administrative tensions within the bank, blamed on Worrell, who recently sacked the Human Resources Manager Janis Marville.
Last Thursday, Sinckler, at the insistence of other members of the board reportedly met with Worrell to inform him that his services were no longer needed, and that he had until Monday to either resign or be forced out of office.
However, Worrell immediately moved to challenge the right of the minister to get rid of him by filing a temporary injunction, through his attorney Gregory Nicholls, barring Sinckler and the six-member board of the Central Bank from taking any further action to dispose of him.
In making the ruling Justice Randall Worrell also gave Sinckler until Wednesday morning to come up with a satisfactory explanation as to why the Governor was being removed.
Though not yet armed with all the facts surrounding the attempt to get rid of the Governor, Holmes also expressed serious worry over the development, saying it could create even more economic uncertainty.
“It is worrying for something like this to be happening. It is one of those things that could cast a little shadow over us as an international business jurisdiction – let people start to wonder what is really going on especially since the Governor’s report just the other day was not flattering. So it is a little worrying to us,” he told Barbados TODAY.
He too called for a quick resolution “so we can get back to the matter of trying to resuscitate this economy”.
“I don’t think it may surprise anyone to hear that the business community says it is worrying, not just the international business community but the business community at large. The Central Bank is too much of an important institution for this not to have an impact on the business community and what people think about what is going on,” he added.
Like the rest of the business leaders, Herbert would not say whether or not he was in favour of Worrell parting ways with the financial institution. However, the BPSA head said: “We wouldn’t like to see a prolonged battle between the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank. It is an important time for them to be working in harmony, even if it is a check and balance”. [email protected].