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A case of entrapment, says Opposition Leader

Friday, December 25, 2015
Jwala Rambarran

Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said she was “shocked but not surprised” by the Government’s move to axe Central Bank Governor, Jwala Rambarran.

In a media statement yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said Rambarran’s removal had “all the hallmarks” of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Government and likened his dismissal to the former PNM regimes action against the former Speaker of the House of Representatives Occah Seapaul and a former Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert took a note to Cabinet regarding Rambarran’s continuation as Central Bank Governor. On Wednesday, the Cabinet took the decision to terminate Rambarran and made that recommendation to acting President Christine Kangaloo. He was immediately replaced by deputy governor Alvin Hilaire, who will now serve for five years.

Persad-Bissessar cited Rowley’s clarification in the media that Rambarran was not being hounded out of office by his Government but if he was fired, it would be by his own actions.

She said that Rambarran’s decision to announce that the country was in a recession and revealing the names of the largest consumers of foreign exchange “offended the Government”.

“Rambarran’s made the disclosure only after Finance Minister Colm Imbert asked the Central Bank to provide information on how the recent release of foreign exchange (US$500m) was distributed and indicated that such information would be made public,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar is now accusing the Government of entrapment, saying that the Government tied to “set up” the Governor, even as he was providing the information as they requested.

“The Opposition is of the view that the Central Bank must remain independent in the same way that Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions must have more than an arm’s length association with the administration,” she said.

“It is a continuation of the victimisation that has been taking place against citizens since the present (Prime Minister Dr Keith) Rowley PNM administration took office,” Persad-Bissessar said.

“Only this week the Prime Minister stated that a Government “ought to have confidence” in any Central Bank Governor, raising speculation that his government intended to act against the government,” she said.

Rambarran’s crime, it seems, has nothing to do with his competence but with statements that have offended the governing elite and its friends, said the Opposition Leader.

“The PNM has tried to demonise and belittle Rambarran for political purposes from the day of his appointment. The argument that Rambarran’s disclosure amounts to a breach of rules is not valid,” she said.

Section 8(6) of the legislation allows the Central Bank “to make public disclosure by any means considered appropriate by the bank where such disclosure would be in the best interests of: (a) T&T’s financial system, or (b) the depositors, other customers, creditors or shareholders of such licencee.”

And Section 56 provides that “the preservation of secrecy is subject to what is necessary for the due performance of its objects.”


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