Economist Jwala Rambarran, 44, is assuming the role of Central Bank Governor on an optimistic note.
Trinidad and Tobago does not have a "doomsday economy," he said last night following the announcement by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that he had been chosen by Cabinet as the new Governor.
Last month, at his last monetary policy report, outgoing Governor Ewart Williams had revised the growth projection for the local economy to one per cent for 2012. However, Rambarran has a different view. He believes the matrix by which the economic projections are made needs to be revised as it is not applicable to an economy as complex as Trinidad and Tobago.
"There are pockets of growth and clusters of activity in this economy. What it needs is an injection of confidence," he said.
Rambarran said he intended to work closely with Finance Minister Larry Howai as he believes Government's fiscal policy should be in sync with the Central Bank monetary's policy. Further, he'd like to strengthen the economic research department of the Central Bank which would inform how it provides advice on the economy.
Rambarran replaces Williams at the Central Bank on Monday and at 44, is the youngest man to assume the governorship title.
He was selected by Cabinet yesterday from a group which included Securities and Exchange chairman Patrick Watson and Michael Mansoor, executive chairman of CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank.
He was informed of his acceptance by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday. On the advice of Cabinet, President George Maxwell Richards will officially appoint the new Central Bank Governor.
Rambarran, a former senior economist at the Central Bank, said he isn't intimidated by having to fill Williams' shoes. Williams, whose last day is July 16, served the bank for a decade under two different administrations. There's been widespread speculation and concern as to Williams' replacement as the Central Bank Act does not allow for an acting governor.
Questioned whether he felt he was being thrown into the deep end, as there was no grooming period before he assumed office, Rambarran responded: "No, not at all. 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 said that while it would have been advantageous to have been briefed on the issues and challenges of the economy by Williams, the time period between his appointment and Ewart's exit negated such a handover.
Rambarran's intent is to "build on the good work that Governor Williams has done in the past 10 years."
While cognizant of criticism he would likely face because of his age, Rambarran's view is that people "should wait until they see my performance".
"In today's world, age is not necessarily a barrier to high office," he told the Express during a telephone interview, shortly after news of his appointment was made public.
He pointed out that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was younger than him yet held one of the highest offices in the country. He noted that people come with competencies and capabilities and need to be given an opportunity to develop a track record.
Rambarran holds a BA from the University of the West Indies in Economics and Mathematics and a Master's in Financial Economics from the University of London. He 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) 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 NIHERST.