Nine months after he was fired from the top post of Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, economist Dr DeLisle Worrell says he stands ready and willing to return, but not at all costs.
Worrell, whose management style was criticized at the height of the impasse earlier this year with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler that led to his sacking, told Barbados TODAY in an exclusive interview this afternoon that in retrospect he would not have done anything differently since “I [could] only do the things I know at the time”.
However, he said he was “absolutely” willing to return to the helm of the Central Bank if he were to be given the opportunity.
“I think there is unfinished business there and if I am asked to, I would be happy to do that. But by the same token, as I have said, I am transitioning to a new phase of my life, so if that opportunity does not present itself then there is much I need to do, much of it beyond Barbados,” the 72-year-old Worrell said.
It was during a meeting with Sinckler on Thursday, February 9, reportedly at the insistence of other members of the board of the Central Bank, that Worrell was informed that he had until the close of business on Monday, February 13 to resign as this country’s chief economic advisor or be removed.
However, that order was met with immediate resistance by a defiant Worrell who immediately embarked on a course of legal action through which he managed to secure a temporary High Court injunction, barring Sinckler and the six-member board of the monetary authority from taking any further action to dispose of him.
But a week later that injunction was lifted by the High Court, with Worrell moving to the Appeals Court to challenge Snicker’s right to dismiss him.
With his legal challenge still before the court, all Worrell would tell Barbados TODAY when asked what was the real reason behind him getting the boot, was: “I have filed suit on the Minister of Finance because he acted unlawfully in this instance. That is all I need to say about that. He [Sinckler] does not have the lawful right to do what he did.”
While also pointing out that he “did not have the opportunity to take the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice”, the ex-governor further insisted that “nobody is above the law”.
At the height of his very public disagreement with Sinckler, one matter that came up was Government’s continued reliance on the Central Bank to pay public servants, a practice which Worrell had warned was unsustainable and needed to be immediately stopped in the face of dwindling international reserves, which recently reached an all-time low of $500 million.
Since his sacking Worrell has also got into the habit of issuing monthly economic newsletters and has recently been pressing Government to urgently restructure the economy with the help of the International Monetary Fund and by reducing the overall size of public service by 4,500 workers. This as the Freundel Stuart administration also grapples with a mounting national debate of over 100 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and a fiscal deficit of about five per cent of GDP.
Explaining his very vocal stance of late, Worrell told Barbados TODAY that while he had “studiously avoided political engagement” throughout his career, he had come to appreciate that it was critical to “communicate with everybody and not just politicians, because politicians are going to be influenced by the climate of opinion”.
In terms of his management style, Worrell described it as “inclusive”, explaining that staff members were given the opportunity to share their ideas and opinions once they had expertise or knowledge of the subject area.
“One of the first things I did when I took up the post was to establish a collective arrangement for managing the affairs of the bank. That is where I think the bank needs to go. In fact, I think it is a process that I recommend for all organizations.
“I think the hierarchical approach to management which is embedded in the current structure of the bank, which I tried to change, and in the structure of most organizations where the boss gives orders, that is passé and that never achieved optimal results,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that “the areas of the Bank which are most efficient and most productive are the areas where I was able to introduce a collaborative style of management”.
Worrell, who first joined the Central Bank in 1973, started in the area of research and worked his way up the ladder, before moving on to the International Monetary Fund 25 years later.
He also headed up the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance in Trinidad before returning to the Central Bank in November 2009 as Governor, which was renewed for a second consecutive five-year term in 2014, until his tenure was cut short in February.
Following Worrell’s sacking, his former deputy Cleviston Haynes has been appointed Acting Governor while senior economist Michelle Doyle-Lowe was appointed Acting Deputy Governor.