By Emmanuel Joseph
Two economists have expressed confidence in the newly-appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados (CBB) Dr Kevin Greenidge to fulfil his mandate impartially despite his previous role in helping to craft one of the fiscal programmes which the bank monitors.
On Monday, Canada-based senior Barbadian economist Carlos Forte and University of the West Indies economic lecturer at the Cave Hill Campus Dr Antonio Alleyne said Dr Greenidge’s academic credentials cannot be challenged.
Dr Greenidge was the former Senior Economic Advisor to Prime Minister Mia Mottley and a key player in the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-financed Barbados Economic Reform and Transformation (BERT) programme.
On the question of a possible bias, Forte acknowledged: “I think the issue is bigger than his involvement in the BERT programme. I think it is one where we would expect or have come to expect that all governors of the Central Bank would be of the highest professional integrity.
“We recognise they operate in a political environment. I would hope and expect that Dr Greenidge would stay within the crease, and if at any time he steps out of the crease, I, and I expect my economist colleagues as well, would stump him,” Forte, Senior Consultant and Project Manager for Research, Valuation and Advisory with the Altus Group in Canada told Barbados TODAY.
“We will hold him to the highest professional standards of integrity and do our best to ensure that we put pressure as appropriate to ensure that the public enjoys an unvarnished, objective assessment of Barbados’ economic performance and what is needed, particularly in monetary terms,” said Forte.
Just before Dr Greenidge’s appointment was made public last week, President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Dr Ronnie Yearwood raised concerns about transparency and independence if the person appointed was part of the “architecture of designing and implementing any of the programmes that the very Central Bank has to monitor”.
However, Forte argued that Dr Greenidge’s previous role as economic advisor to the Government would make him a perfect fit for the CBB governor, who advises the Government on monetary policy.
“There are two ways that one can look at it…. that the role he performed and the relationship that he developed with the Prime Minister in particular, who is the Minister of Finance, and the trust that she clearly has in him, that made him a prime candidate to fill the vacancy. For those latter reasons, when I became aware that Governor [Cleviston] Haynes was going to be demitting office, Dr Greenidge was my number one suspect,” Forte revealed.
In wishing Dr Greenidge and the bank continued success, Forte said: “Barbadians look to the Central Bank for an unvarnished, objective view of the past performance of the economy and economic forecasts. Notwithstanding that, the bank has a responsibility for the bank’s supervision and so on.”
Dr Alleyne echoed Forte’s view that Dr Greenidge was impeccably qualified academically for the job.
“He is qualified for the position, so I definitely have no problem as it relates to his qualifications for being appointed Governor of the Central Bank,” he told Barbados TODAY. “He has vast years of experience, vast knowledge in the field of the operations of the Central Bank. So he is qualified and you must agree that he is capable of doing the job even if you assess him on his qualifications alone.”
Dr Alleyne added that he expects that the new Governor would be unbiased in assessing programmes with which he was previously involved.
“The biases which some people are afraid of, I am not going to jump the gun and assume that there is going to be any bias or any misallocation of resources due to his connection to the current Government. Generally speaking, if you look across the board, the majority of times, most central bank governors have been appointed due to their connections with the current leader of the country. I know Dr Greenidge at the professional level, and he is one who sets out a goal and will seek to achieve that goal.
“I think in the Caribbean, persons have this knack for jumping the gun, assuming that there is going to be some level of bias attributed based on the association with previous persons of note. I say that in relation to [being] a key member crafting the BERT programme. That does not mean he is not qualified or that he is unwilling or unfit to take up the position of Governor of the Central Bank,” the university economist declared.
“He has a new mandate outlined to him, and we are assuming…. We have to give everyone his due and assuming that he fulfils that mandate, then I think the bank would have a good replacement. That’s the honest truth,” Dr Alleyne asserted.
He, too, argued that Dr Greenidge’s experience with the BERT programme would serve him well as head of the Central Bank.
“His experience with the BERT programme gives him key insights into what the Government is expecting and, therefore, how he should tailor to maintain growth…because he has to monitor policy and he has to assist the growth when it comes to development processes. Fiscal policy is one aspect and fiscal policy would need assistance as well,” the university academic pointed out.