He is no longer this island’s top economist at the Central Bank, but that is not stopping 72-year-old Dr DeLisle Worrell from doing what he can to encourage positive change in the local and regional economies.
“I am still doing economics, doing much of the same thing I did throughout most of my career,” Worrell declared during a recent wide-ranging interview with Barbados TODAY at his Fisherpond, St Joseph home.
“I remain committed to what has been my life’s work really, which is to uncover the wonderful potential we have as a Caribbean nation,” he added.
Ten months ago he was fired from the post of Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, and almost immediately Worrell started to publish a monthly newsletters, addressing a range of local, regional and international economic issues.
While acknowledging that there are tremendous differences in each economy, Worrell said he believed the region had a lot of similarities and a lot of “wonderful potential”. In this regard, he said it was his intention to help regional leaders to realize that potential.
“We have done reasonably well, some of us better than others. I am in transition now to a new phase of work in that area,” he said, as he pointed to his website where he now publishes most of his work.
“It will be beyond Barbados . . . . Most of my publications will be on several countries in the Caribbean and increasingly beyond . . . that is going to be a thrust of my work going forward,” he added.
Besides working on a number of papers with other economists, Worrell recently completed one of his own, the Barbados Economy: The Road to Prosperity, in which he highlights a number of potential areas for growth in the local economy and stresses the need for decisive action.
Of concern to Worrell is the urgent need for public sector reform and a cut in Government expenditure.
“There is one thing that stands in our way of that prosperity and that is our public sector. A large section of our public sector is inefficient and wasteful in this country,” he insisted, pointing out that the next administration will have to address that issue head-on.
Worrell, who is no stranger to providing tips and assistance to various economies and enterprises in the region, recently visited St Kitts where he provided some technical assistance in the area of research to the central bank there.
“That is also something I am hoping to do in countries throughout the region and maybe beyond. As I said, the framework for economic policymaking that we have developed here in Barbados I think is superior,” he said, while suggesting that it could be duplicated throughout the region and beyond.
On the international scene the prominent economist is currently involved in the discussions on derisking and correspondent banking. He also attends the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank as he joins in discussions on major economic issues.
A specialist in trade, economics and econometrics, Worrell started his dream career in Jamaica as a university lecturer.
However, that was short-lived when after careful consideration and some prodding from a close friend, he decided to accept an opportunity to help establish a research department at the Central Bank of Barbados in 1973.
“I am an accidental central banker because it so happened that a late friend of mine, we studied together in Mona where I did my first degree, by the time I had gone back to Jamaica he was back in Barbados . . . and Errol Barrow had just set up the Central Bank and was looking for sometime to establish a research department,” he recalled.
Though accepting the offer for an initial three years, it mushroomed into 25 years.
After leaving the Central Bank in 1998, he spent about ten years with the IMF and then returned to the Caribbean, where he headed up the Trinidad-based Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance.
It was in 2009 that the respected economist returned to the Central Bank as Governor. That appointment was renewed for a second consecutive five-year term in 2014, until his tenure was cut short in February of this year.
Looking back at his time spent at the financial institution, Worrell said he was proud of what he was able to achieve with his team.
“I had the privilege of being among the people who got the Central Bank started in the first place. I am happy that I was able, during my tenure, to modernize the Central Bank in many respects – being faithful to the principles of which we started. One of the most important of those was communication, providing clear and understandable language, description and analysis of the economy that resonated with the general public,” he said.
“What we were able to do over the last few years was to bring that up to date with the 21st century by use of the Internet and videos,” he added.
Like he did then, Worrell, who has been married to Monica Drayton-Worrell for the past 26 years, said he continues to balance work and personal life.
The devoted lover of art, entertainment and cultural events said these days he enjoys dabbling a little bit more in photography and attending horse racing whenever he gets the chance.
He also enjoys watching movies with his wife and making sure that some nights of the week are dedicated to specific genres.
“When people say about two people becoming one, yeah, we are very different personalities and we live, in a sense, our separate lives, but we really share each other, we complement each other,” he said of his relationship with his wife, explaining that ever so often and increasingly they would think about the same thing at the same time.
They are both lovers of cats. However, after tragically losing their pet cat some years ago, which left Monica very distraught, it was decided that they would “never, ever have another pet”.
Worrell, who is also very passionate about renewable energy, said he believed that industry had the potential to help transform the local economy.
Acknowledging that it would be a difficult task, Worrell said he remained confident that once a more rapid build out of the industry was undertaken the foreign exchange reserves would benefit.
“All these things, the public sector reform and all, they will happen. But if we don’t manage them they will happen in a way that is sporadic and not give us the best results, and it may happen in a way that you and I won’t be around and don’t see the benefits. If we take decisive action in the right direction we can be at the forefront of what happens,” he said.