Bulgarian political parties gave short shrift to Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) governor Ivan Iskrov’s offer to resign his position, which he made in a letter to Parliament Speaker Mihail Mikov on July 22.
Iskrov, who claimed he and the central bank were being made a scapegoat by political parties jockeying for position ahead of early elections on October 5, said that he was prepared to hand in his resignation as soon as the parties in the National Assembly were ready to appoint his successor.
Boiko Borissov, leader of the opposition party GERB and one who has repeatedly called for Iskrov’s resignation in recent weeks, was predictably the most scathing, saying that Iskrov should “submit his resignation and wait.”
Borissov said it was “not up to Iskrov” to dictate Parliament’s agenda. “He should do the work that BNB has to do on banks, rather than give us terms. He needs not confess poor oversight [of the banking sector], because it is painfully clear that there was no such oversight,” Borissov told reporters on July 23, referring to the central bank’s handling of the Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB) affair.
Socialist parliamentary floor leader Atanas Merdzhanov was less harsh in his comments, but made the same suggestion – namely that Iskrov should focus more on his duty to “present objective and clear information on the state of the CCB and follow through with the procedures prescribed by law.”
“Otherwise, these epistolary exercises – a conditional resignation should political parties meet and reach an agreement – are frivolous,” Merdzhanov said.
Only the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) had a neutral position on the issue, with deputy speaker Aliosman Imamov saying that the current legislature, due to be prorogued on August 6 to pave the way for snap elections on October 5, was unlikely to reach consensus on a candidate to replace Iskrov as BNB governor.
Iskrov’s second term at the helm of the central bank expires in September 2015. He was first appointed in 2003, by the ruling coalition between former monarch Simeon Saxe-Coburg’s party (for which Iskrov was then an MP) and the MRF.
Controversially, he was reappointed in 2009, several months before his term was due to expire, by the outgoing tripartite ruling coalition (between the socialists, Saxe-Coburg’s party and the MRF), against the opposition of GERB, then outside parliament but a heavy favourite to win the July 2009 parliamentary elections.
After GERB won the election, Iskrov resigned and was once again confirmed, with GERB’s backing, by the new legislature in August 2009 – to ensure “continuity” at the central bank at a time when the full impact of the unfolding global financial crisis was yet unknown.
(Bulgarian National Bank governor Ivan Iskrov. Photo: BBCC)