Kiev: Ukraine’s Central Bank Governor Valeria Gontereva has resigned, an official said on Monday, depriving it of a tough reformer capable of taking on vested interests at a time when the country is recovering from a steep recession.
Praised by investors and the International Monetary Fund, Gontareva’s tough anti-crisis measures saw her vilified by some lawmakers and local businessmen. A hate campaign against her included a protest leaving a coffin at her door.
A former investment banker and business partner of President Petro Poroshenko, Gontareva took charge nearly three years ago after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and with the country in the throes of a pro-Russian separatist uprising.
Her departure nearly completes an exodus of reformers who were appointed after Poroshenko’s pro-Western administration took charge following the Maidan street protests in 2013/2014.
It comes a week after the International Monetary Fund, which supports Ukraine with a $17.5 billion bailout package, said that domestic politics could derail crucial reforms such as raising the pension age or lifting a ban on land sales.
Gontareva will give a news conference at 1100 (0800 GMT).
“Yes, it’s true, she has submitted (her resignation),” the official said, confirming a report by Interfax.
Gontareva introduced sweeping reforms, including shutting down half Ukraine’s lenders and switching to a flexible exchange rate. Economic growth is expected to be 2 per cent this year, according to the IMF’s forecast.
No successor has been named as of now. The office of Poroshenko, who is responsible for choosing and dismissing the central bank governor, declined immediate comment.
Other reformers who quit or were pushed out include Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius, who resigned and accused a close Poroshenko ally of corruption. Others include the technocrat finance minister and the head of the national police.
“The government hasn’t been technocratic for a while since Yatseniuk, Aivaras Abromavicius etc left,” said Evghenia Sleptsova, economist for Central and Eastern Europe at Oxford Economics in London, referring to ex premier Arseny Yatseniuk.
“Ukraine has made a lot of progress on reform, they have done a lot, but in terms of stamping out corruption and vested interests they are hitting a dead end.” Gontareva had signalled in March that she would quit after the IMF dispersed its latest tranche of aid.
“Yesterday there was a coffin with my head in it at the main entrance of the central bank,” she told journalists on March 2.
“If the whole country sees that as normal, then that’s that.”