…Finance Minister, Ashni Singh said he was an extraordinary public servant and friend
HUNDREDS gathered at the St. George’s Cathedral in Georgetown, yesterday, to pay their last respects and be part of a thanksgiving service for the life of former Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Mr. Lawrence Theodore Williams, CCH. Mr. Williams died at the Balwant Singh Hospital on May 7, following prolonged illness. He was 59.
Following the service, his body was taken to his homeland Cane Grove, East Coast Demerara, the cortege marshalled by police outriders, for interment in the Cane Grove Methodist Church yard.
For hours leading up to the 13:00hrs start of the service, the body lay at the entrance to the Cathedral, as the large gathering of mourners and sympathisers filed past the open casket.
Among those in attendance were Head of State President, Donald Ramotar; Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds; Head of A Partnership for National Unity, Brigadier Ret’d David Granger; Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh; Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Bishop Juan Edgill; other government ministers and members of the Diplomatic Corps. There was also overwhelming representation from the Banking Sector and other financial institutions, the private sector, various social, political religious and professional organisations, as well as Non-Governmental organisations.
There were many glowing tributes. Those who joined in the tributes included Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Gobin Ganga, and Chairman of the Guyana Bankers Association, Mr. Jerome Khan and others.
Mr. Williams was described by Dr. Ashni Singh as a dedicated son of Guyana, an extraordinary public servant, a cherished friend, a fine gentleman, and a man of integrity on whom was conferred one of Guyana’s highest awards – the Cacique Crown of Honour.
He alluded to his ability, loyalty, focus, patience, endurance, and discipline, noting, “These were the qualities that distinguished his professional life from its earliest days and throughout thereafter.
Dr. Singh who has had the privilege of a working association with Lawrence for two decades, dating back to long before both Lawrence’s accession to the Governorship and Dr. Singh’s own appointment as minister, affirmed, “I have no doubt that every single person who would have come into contact with Lawrence Williams at work would have been deeply impressed by and imbued with admiration for his quiet but immeasurable competence.
The Finance minister conveyed to Mrs. Valerie Williams and the rest of his immediate and extended family, sincerest condolences on behalf of President Donald Ramotar, the entire Cabinet and the Government of Guyana, and indeed all the people of Guyana on the passing of this outstanding and cherished son of our country.
Meanwhile, Deputy Governor, Dr. Gobin Ganga said that in Mr. Williams’ passing, Guyana has lost an outstanding professional who joined the staff of the Bank of Guyana as Assistant Principal in 1979, served with distinction and was sworn in by then President Bharrat Jagdeo as Governor on June 8, 2005.
“He had a wealth of institutional knowledge and served with distinction,” he said, adding that he was a great human being.
Meanwhile, a Bank of Guyana bio-data on Mr. Williams states: “In 1979, just after successfully completing the Bachelors of Social Sciences Degree (Management) he joined the staff of the Bank as an Assistant Principal in the Exchange Control Department where he held major responsibility for implementing and maintaining the system for monitoring exports and collection of export receipts.
“Subsequently, in 1982, he was appointed as a Principal, at which level he undertook the accounting and investment function of the Export Development Fund. In January 1984, Mr. Williams was appointed Supervisor, Export Development Fund. His duties included day to day management of the World Bank funded project which provided the foreign currency financing for non-traditional exporters to meet the cost of imported input of raw materials, capital and intermediate goods. During the six years that Mr. Williams served as Supervisor, he acquired considerable experience in foreign exchange management and investments.
“Consequently, in January 1991 he rose to the position of Senior Supervisor Exchange Control Department. However, his stay there was short lived, since by the following January he was named Assistant Head, Debt Management and Exchange Control Department where he held major responsibility for the domestic debt operations and the administration of exchange controls.
“Soon after, in January 1995, Mr. Williams was appointed Director, Operations Department. There he held day to day responsibility for the management of the Banking, Currency and Money Market Divisions. His vast experience over the years, especially in managing the Export Development Fund, coupled with his exposure at the Debt Management and Exchange Control Department prepared him for even greater challenges.
“In August 1995, Mr. Lawrence Williams was appointed Banking Manager by the Minister of Finance. At this level he was responsible for overseeing the operational departments of the Bank (Accounts & Budgeting Department, International Department, Banking, Currency and Money Market Divisions). In addition to other duties, he chaired a number of Standing Committees and was also a Trustee of the Staff Pension Scheme.
“In November 2004 Mr. Williams was appointed Governor (ag.) by the President of Guyana. On Wednesday, June 8, 2005 Mr. Williams was sworn in as Governor, Bank of Guyana, by the President. As the Chief Executive Officer, he was responsible for the overall management of the Bank. As Governor, he was also Chairman of the Board of Directors. At this forum he was responsible for guiding the deliberations of the Board with a view to ensuring the achievement of the Bank’s principal objectives of fostering monetary stability and promoting credit conditions conducive to growth.
“Earlier in his career, Mr. Williams was a member of the Guyana Gold Board and the Guyana Rice Export Board. He had also attended a number of professional training programmes as well as numerous seminars, conferences and meetings including CARICOM Central Banks Governors’ Conferences.”
Mr. Williams leaves to mourn his wife Valerie, his three children Runda, Lauren, and Lawrence Jr., also known as Gavin, and grandson Andrew Brown.
(By Shirley Thomas)