On the second floor of the Central Bank's offices in Port of Spain last Friday, 44-year-old economist Jwala Rambarran was on his fourth day of work.
The Central Bank Governor cut a different figure from his predecessor, Ewart Williams, with a smaller stature and an even softer voice, as he sat down with the Business Express for his first scheduled interview since assuming his new status as the man in charge of the country's monetary policy.
Rambarran is precise – it's reflected in the clutter-free, almost methodically organised desk in front of him, to the words he chooses to use in answering questions.
But as a former senior economist at the Bank, Rambarran's in familiar territory.
He was thrust into office three days before the exit of former governor Williams, with only one day of grooming for the office he'll occupy for the next five years.
"I've had the experience of interacting with governors and ministers of finance in the past. I am well-versed on how the Trinidad and Tobago economy operates and I have a good idea of what lies ahead," he has said previously.
If Rambarran sounds like he is touting his own achievements, it may be only to make the public aware that he's been around for some time.
He holds a BA from the University of the West Indies in Economics and Mathematics, a Master's in Financial Economics from the University of London and has been trained at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Institute and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
He represented Trinidad and Tobago on the executive board of the IMF from 2001-2003.
He was a chief economist at Caribbean Money Market Brokers (CMMB), now called First Citizens Investment Services, before he embarked on his own business, CAP-M Research.
He also lectured on economics, finance and strategy at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business and was the chairman of the board of governors at National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST).
As the second youngest Governor of the Central Bank, a lot has changed since he left the Central Bank years ago.
But some things are still the same.
His first few days were spent meeting members of his executive team, becoming acquainted with the Bank's new organisational structure which was deployed by Williams and this week, Rambarran is scheduled to meet different stakeholders.
He seems like the embodiment of Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory.
He's devoted his work career with the hope of one day becoming a Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.
He admitted that he was surprised when he was selected by the People's Partnership Cabinet to head the institution.
Rambarran was selected ahead of veteran economists Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir, Professor Patrick Watson and former independent senator and banker Michael Mansoor.
"The Central Bank is the pillar of economic stability in Trinidad and Tobago. Central bankers are entrusted with a sacred responsibility to the citizens of this country. They have entrusted us to protect their economic interests, whether it is fighting inflation, safeguarding the currency, or regulating the financial system," he said.
Asked what he'd like his legacy to be, Rambarran immediately replies: "In the true spirit of servant leadership, that the Central Bank came even closer to the people."
Rambarran's appointment was described by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as a "breath of fresh air" and perhaps it's because, unlike some commentators on the local economy, Rambarran does not believe T&T has a "doomsday economy".
He believes the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) growth projection of 1.5 per cent for the local economy for 2012, is still sound.
"There are pockets of growth and clusters of activity in this economy. What it needs is an injection of confidence," he said.
"The growth outlook remains feasible but I believe that the more fundamental issue relates to measurement of the Trinidad and Tobago economy, which has undergone significant structural changes over the past decade. For example, services now account for half of the Trinidad and Tobago economy.
"Many towns such as Tunapuna, Penal/Debe, Rio Claro and Sangre Grande were not bustling localities ten years ago. Considerable consumer spending is taking place in these clusters. Mobile phone penetration has grown by leaps and bounds to more than 100 per cent of the population. The GATE Programme has expanded the country's tertiary participation rate to 40 per cent, on par with the industrialised countries. This means that both the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and the Central Bank would have to look at refining their respective methodological approaches to calculating economic growth so as to better reflect the realities on the ground," he said.
To this end, he believes that there should be greater coordination between the Government's fiscal policy and the Bank's monetary policy in the best interest of the country.
It was one of Williams' hopes which he'd expressed during his exit interview a few weeks ago.
Rambarran's intent is to "build on the good work that Governor Williams has done in the past ten years".
Asked how he would classify the economy, Rambarran responded: "The T&T economy has been fairly resilient in the face of a global crisis that is now in its fifth year and whose character continues to change. The global crisis started in the summer of 2007 as a private debt crisis in the sub-prime mortgage markets but changed through contagion to a sovereign debt crisis. Over the past the year, the crisis has assumed political characteristics, precipitating the fall of governments, especially in Europe.
"Going forward, monetary and financial policy will remain the first line of defence in the immediate term, in attempting to insulate the T&T economy from further bouts of global financial turbulence. At the same time, prospects for global growth have weakened. Fiscal policy must concentrate on re-invigorating economic growth in a more hostile and less amenable external environment. And, of course, improved economic policy-coordination between the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance remains key to helping build confidence," he said.