Former Central Bank Governor Winston Cox has rushed to the defence of the current embattled head of the country’s monetary authority, suggesting that the Freundel Stuart Government should leave Dr DeLisle Worrell alone and focus on the country’s worsening economic woes.
Saying he could fully empathize with his embattled successor, Cox, who served in the top economic advisory role from September 1997 to April 1999 before being unceremoniously released by the then Owen Arthur-led administration, stressed the need for tough decisions to be taken to pull the country out of its present economic rut, while stating that the current “friction” between the Governor and the Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler was nothing more than an “unfortunate distraction”.
His comments followed today’s High Court decision to extend for another two days an injunction granted to the Governor, through his attorney Gregory Nicholls that has effectively blocked all efforts by the Minister of Finance to have him removed from office.
Commenting publicly on the matter for the first time, Cox warned that given the state of the economy at the moment, “We need to have all our best hands on board to manage the situation at present”, adding that “it is very unfortunate that we are distracted from managing the economy”.
While acknowledging that Dr Worrell was a personal friend, the former Governor, who currently resides in Quebec, said when it came to matters of the economy, there could be no questioning Worrell’s ability or competence.
“I have worked with him for years and there is absolutely no doubt for me,” he told Barbados TODAY in reference to the country’s Governor, who was first appointed back in 2009 for a five year term, which was renewed back in 2014.
In a bid to explain the recent souring of relations between Worrell, who is in his 70s, and Sinckler, who was at one point the Governor’s biggest defender, well-placed sources have pointed to a combination of reasons, including that Worrell has recently publicly differed with Sinckler on the need for Government to urgently stop its printing of money and for it to embark on urgent expenditure cuts.
However, in support of Worrell’s position, Cox, who was appointed by the late Prime Minister and Minister of Finance David Thompson to head up a working group in 2008 when the global economic crisis broke, said there was a definite need to prevent any further deterioration of our economic situation, to generate a turn around and stimulate growth and expansion in the economy.
‘I don’t know if those solutions that we [the working group] proposed would still work today because of the way how the economy has changed, but certainly I have heard lots of people commenting on the printing of money, which is a layman’s term, which means that the Central Bank is financing Government really, that is what it means, and I think that the Government has to reverse that,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Cox also cautioned that the job of Governor was not an easy one, “especially if you are the main source of financing for the Government”.
“The Central Bank always does provide some financing for Government but it is a cyclical thing and it goes up and down, but if you are the continuous source of financing for the Government then I think you have to try and fix those situations.”
He emphasized that the Governor’s credentials could not be questioned in terms of the job at hand.
However, when asked why the urgent need to remove him at this time, Cox said: “I think you would have to ask the Minister that.
“I assure you that as somebody who is outside of Barbados and somebody who has never had any political aspiration, I wouldn’t try to enter the mind of a minister,” he quipped, while staying clear of the matter which is currently before the court.