Chamber condemns Central Bank Governor's "breach of confidentiality"

Sunday, December 6, 2015 - 20:00

The Chamber of Industry and Commerce is criticising the Central Bank Governor, Jwala Rambarran's decision to disclose the names of companies that are using the bulk of foreign exchange in this country. The Governor also disclosed the amounts during an address on Friday.

The following is the Chamber's full statement: 

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (T&T Chamber) wholly condemns the clear breach of confidentiality on the part of the Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (the Governor), when he deliberately opted to identify by name, companies and businesses deemed to be “top users” of foreign exchange in the country.

The disclosures, which also included the amount of foreign exchange purchased by each company, were made during the Governor’s address at the Fifth Monetary Policy Forum hosted by The Central Bank last Friday December 4.

It was unfortunate that the breach occurred in a speech which otherwise presented valuable information on economic and monetary trends to the public. In attempting to add context and a better understanding of the foreign exchange usage profile, it would have been sufficient for the Governor to have listed only the sectors and industries which are the main users of foreign exchange.

Not surprisingly, as customers and depositors of commercial banks, companies are severely aggrieved at the betrayal of confidence, given the high expectation of privacy in such matters. The T&T Chamber is also concerned that this is a dangerous precedent that could lead to further disclosure of any confidential information, if this action goes unchecked.

In addition, the T&T Chamber deems it unacceptable that its membership should be unfairly targeted as they engage in legitimate commercial pursuits in order to meet customer demand. By publicly disclosing the large users of foreign exchange, the Governor appears to be holding the Central Bank and himself blameless for high foreign exchange usage. It must be noted that it is the Central Bank, through the Governor, which is responsible for the country's monetary policy which has promoted the environment articulated by the Governor.

To date, the T&T Chamber and its members have taken a collaborative approach and have actively lobbied the authorities to find solutions to resolve the short supply of foreign exchange. A viable solution cannot be accomplished through either inadvertent or wilful betrayal of the duties of confidentiality outlined in Section 56 of the Central Bank Act or any other relevant Act which regulates the relationship between the Central Bank and licensed banks.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the T&T Chamber remains committed to continued collaboration with the Governor. However, as a matter of urgent public interest, we must register our disappointment and deep concern at this flagrant breach of our laws by no less a body than the regulator.