New Finance Minister Larry Howai has said he is grateful for the confidence placed in him by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and others in the business community on his appointment.
"The PM felt it was very important that someone in whom the business community had confidence could step forward and take over this particular portfolio," Howai told the Express after he had taken the oath of office as a Senator and Minister yesterday.
Howai was previously CEO of state bank First Citizens since 1997, and the chairman of the National Gas Company and the National Energy Corporation. He has had 32 years of experience in the banking sector.
The ceremony took place at Knowsley, Queen's Park West, Port of Spain. Howai was among four new faces—including Marlene Coudray, Jamal Mohammed and Ganga Singh—to be sworn in by President George Maxwell Richards.
"I didn't choose. The Prime Minister offered and I think this is a time where I needed to come forward and make an input.
"I think for the time being my experience in the financial sector would be very helpful, and I have a little bit of an understanding of what's happening," he said.
He said he wanted to first meet with his Permanent Secretary and "get the facts" so he could start determining what needed to be done.
Since his appointment, several people have offered their congratulations and expressed confidence in Howai's ability to steer the economy through to growth, including former finance minister Mariano Brown and Republic Bank's chief economist Ronald Ramkissoon.
"I am very grateful for the confidence people seem to have in me and I hope I do repay that in full measure by the performance of the ministry and the economy. The economy was slowing, although I thought there were areas where things were starting to pick up: I was seeing growth in transactions and lending. But there is much more to be done and that is why I took up the challenge," he said.