In May this year Governor Delisle Worrell issued a directive to ban the Nation newspaper from participating in press conferences hosted by the Central Bank of Barbados. His action provoked wide condemnation from every corner within in civil society. The Governor and Central Bank obviously yielded to the pressure and public expectation reverted to the Governor having his routine press and Q&A sessions or so we thought!
It was a surprise therefore when the media was informed that the regular press conference to cover the six month economic performance review was to be cancelled. To date Barbados Underground has not discern the same level of outcry in response to the decision by the Central Bank compared to when the Nation newspaper was banned. Which is to be condemned more, the short-lived ban imposed on the Nation newspaper OR the cancellation of the press conference that denied the Fourth Estate from interrogating the banker of government at a time when we have more questions than answers.
The feeble excuse offered by the Central Bank and supported by leading media practitioner David Ellis that all press briefings are posted to a website is unacceptable. At a time when a greater level of public engagement is the desirable option, the Governor has chosen to retreat and is happy to limit his public appearances captured in the press to attendance at crop over events.
Of greater concern to BU has been the loud silence by civil society and in particular the media. What makes the decision by the Governor to cancel the press conference the more worrying was that no reason was offered. One must conclude that the Governor and his Central Bank advisors have scant respect for the media and by extension the public of Barbados and those beyond.
The supine nature of the local fourth estate has been questioned repeatedly by the fifth estate in recent years, the lack of a strident response to the cancellation of the customary six month economic performance review of the is further confirmation to its moribund state. Questions by the public about key government projects failing to acquire finance and the impact on economic recovery, the funding of government finances contrary to advice from the IMF and others remain unanswered by the Governor. The reason we want to to hear the governor on these matters is that some, although dwindling, regard statements issued by the Central Bank as still credible. Many Barbadians are not inclined to accept utterances from the Minister of Finance after six years of little or no improvement in the economy.
The Governor is said to be a creature of the Minister of Finance, although one senses in the case of Worrell and Sinckler this is not the case. Worrell’s decision to cancel we reasonable expect would have been conveyed to the government through the office of Sinckler. In the absence of an official explanation we are left to speculate why the six month press conference was cancelled.
BU has reached the position of a lack of confidence in Minister of Finance Sinckler and the Governor of the Central Bank Delisle Worrell. There comes a time when enough is enough. The time has come for the two actors to step aside and give others the opportunity to fan confidence back into the Barbados financial arena. Both should resign because the Prime Minister will not fire them because it requires a decision to be made. And the media will not do it because the politicians always seem to find a way to extract moulah from them, especially the Nation newspaper.