KYIV, July 9 (Reuters) – The shock resignation of Ukrainian Central Bank Chief Yakiv Smoliy rattled markets last week as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government tried to reassure investors and foreign backers that its reform agenda remained on track.
Smoliy quit due to what he called “systematic political pressure”, weeks after Ukraine secured a $5 billion International Monetary Fund package that is contingent on the central bank remaining free of political meddling.
Parliament could appoint his successor next week. Following are some of the candidates named by Zelenskiy’s party or local media.
Shevchenko, 47, heads state-run Ukrgasbank. He criticised monetary policy under Smoliy as hawkish and for letting the hryvnia currency appreciate, while praising the government’s efforts to make loans cheaper for businesses.
He has been tipped by local media as the next governor since February but has not commented on this publicly. Zelenskiy praised Ukrgasbank as the first bank to issue cheaper loans to small businesses through a government programme.
Lawmakers in Zelenskiy’s party, including Danylo Hetmantsev, head of the parliamentary finance committee, have praised Shevchenko’s professionalism.
Zelenskiy’s party also named Hetmantsev as a potential candidate but he ruled himself out.
Danylyshyn, 55, heads the central bank’s supervisory council and was economy minister under Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from 2007-2010.
Under his leadership, the supervisory council has criticised the central bank for its tight monetary policy, for cutting rates too slowly and allowing the hryvnia to appreciate.
He says the central bank should support government policies and provide the economy with cheap loans.
He has also called for state-run PrivatBank and its former owners to hold constructive dialogue. The IMF deal is contingent on the 2016 nationalisation of PrivatBank, done as part of a clean-up of the banking system, not being reversed.
Shcherbakova, 50, also sits on the central bank’s supervisory council and supported Danylyshyn’s criticisms of monetary policy under Smoliy.
She was director of the central bank’s monetary policy department under President Viktor Yanukovich from 2011-2014, a time when it ran a fixed exchange rate policy that led to a fall in foreign exchange reserves to $5 billion.
Lavrenchuk, 62, is the former head of Ukraine’s second-biggest bank, the local subsidiary of Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank. He was a frontrunner to succeed Governor Valeria Gontareva when she resigned in 2017.
He ruled himself out as a candidate last week, saying the pressure on Smoliy showed there was an attempt to change central bank policy in a way that was “dangerous” to the economy. (Editing by Matthias Williams; editing by John Stonestreet)
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