Five months after his April 1st appointment as the Central Bank of Belize (CBB)’s governor, the Bank’s Board of Directors announced today via press release that Mr. Gustavo Manuel Vasquez has departed from the post with immediate effect.
Given that the departure is “effective today”, the release explained that the “current Chairman of the Bank’s Board of Directors, Mr. Sydney Campbell, who himself is a former Governor of the Bank, has been directed by the Prime Minister to shepherd the Bank’s operations until the appointment of the new Governor.”
The release also explained that until a new governor is appointed, the deputy governors—Kareem Michael and Marilyn Gardiner Usher—and the Bank’s senior management staff are expected to “collaborate closely with Chairman Campbell.” Vasquez had communicated the news of his removal from office to the CBB staff via an email, which read: “Dear Staff, I regretfully inform you that my appointment as Governor was terminated by the Governor General with immediate effect on instructions from the Ministry of Finance. I had been in recent discussions with the Government that wanted to buy out the remainder of my contract and was still in discussion with them up to yesterday without resolution.” His email to staff would go on to state: “Please be absolutely assured that I leave with my head up high as I tried by best to restore the integrity and operational autonomy of the Central Bank, and certainly faced stiff opposition from the Ministry of Finance and special financial and economic sector interests. This is now the beginning of another chapter for the Central Bank as I take ALL the necessary actions to defend myself and my reputation, and that of the Central Bank. With much respect to all the Staff. Mr. Manuel Vasquez” [sic].
Vasquez, who commenced his career at the CBB in 1983, had worked for close to 15 years as the Bank’s Director of Banking Supervision. Thereafter, he worked as a special adviser to the Cayman Island’s Monetary Authority. His career path ultimately led him to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where, according to the April 1st 2021 release, he worked as a Senior Technical Assistance Advisor and Senior Financial Sector Expert for another 15 years.
Vasquez retired from the IMF in 2016, and, for the past five years, has been “engaged as a consultant by the IMF, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Government of Bermuda, the Monetary Authority of Bermuda, the Central Bank of Paraguay, the Central Bank of Albania, the International Financial Services Volunteer Corps, and ECOWAS West Africa.”
Given the key role in preserving a country’s monetary stability, it has been widely accepted globally that that Monetary Authorities should remain independent of the political directorate and central government. Based on the structure outline in the local scenario, stakeholders have questioned the independence of the CBB over the years.