No need for IMF
By DARCEL CHOY Saturday, July 14 2012
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YEOMAN SERVICE: After serving ten years as Central Bank Governor, Ewart Williams - seen speaking yesterday at a ceremony to mark construction of the C...
OUTGOING Central Bank Governor Ewart Williams yesterday said the country will not have to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for assistance as its foreign reserves are now at US$9.5 billion.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley last week warned that if Government was unable to balance its expenditures with revenue soon, the country will have to go to the IMF for a bail out soon.
Speaking at his final engagement as Governor at the sod turning ceremony for the Governor’s official residence at 47 Ellerslie Park, Circular Road, Maraval, Ewart explained that emerging markets go to the IMF when they are not able to get private sector financing from capital markets.
“You go to the IMF when you have balance of payments need, when the economy is such you cant pay your external bills. We are certainly not in a position to claim balance of payments need. Our reserves are now $9.5 billion, in addition we have savings in the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund,” he said.
Commenting on Finance Minister Larry Howai’s prediction that this year will have a deficit budget, Williams said this could be justified because private sector activity continues to be slow.
“Chances are for the next year it is likely to have a small deficit. The Minister of Finance has indicated you can’t be running deficits for too long. He intends on moving towards fiscal balance and I think that is the right policy so as not to crowd out the private sector and provide the necessary confidence to private sector activity,” he said.
When asked if he had any advice for the incoming Central Bank Governor he said it was difficult to offer advice as he does not know who that person will be. He did advise however that the new Governor ensure the Bank’s independence.
“Be careful of your independence, the Central Bank’s success is highly correlated with the degree of independence that the leadership is prepared to exercise,” he said.
Williams turned the sod to mark the commencement of the construction phase of a new residence for the Governor of the Central Bank.
The official residence of the Governor of the Central Bank has traditionally been located in the community of Ellerslie Park. The last Governor to occupy this residence was Governor William Demas who resided there until 1992. On his departure from the Bank, it was decided that the residence was no longer habitable and it was demolished for safety and security reasons.
Governors Thomas Ainsworth Harewood, Winston Dookeran and Williams were accommodated at an alternate location at Trinidad Crescent in Federation Park. Over the years, this aging property has become significantly expensive to maintain and the construction of a large townhouse development by the State in close proximity to the residence has made it less convenient for the hosting of official functions.
A Steering Committee, comprising senior members of staff, a representative from the Board of Directors and a former Chief Architect of the Ministry of Works and Transport, was established to oversee the construction of the new residence.
Out of the Bank’s Tender Process, a team of Consultants led by the firm of Bynoe Rowe Wiltshire Partnership was selected. In the next few weeks, the Bank will be inviting tenders for the construction of the residence.