Bulgaria’s Parliament approved on June 10 the rules for the process to appoint a new governor of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB), with parliamentary parties given seven days to make their nominations, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) reported.
The decision begins the process to replace incumbent Ivan Iskrov, who has faced repeated calls to resign over the past year for his handling of the Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB) collapse, but has refused to do so unless Parliament reached consensus on his replacement.
By law, Iskrov’s request cannot be granted, as the BNB Act says that the appointment of a new member of the central bank’s board – which includes the governor – must be made no sooner than three months before the expiration of the incumbent’s term and no later than two months before the end of the term.
Senior officials in the government and the ruling majority repeatedly have said in recent months that they hoped that Iskrov’s tenure could be ended early, sidestepping questions as to how that could be achieved within the limits placed by the law.
Parliament’s budget committee chairperson Menda Stoyanova said that the National Assembly should start the proceedings early in order to be prepared to make the appointment at the earliest possible date, which is July 10, in case Iskrov did not submit his resignation.
(Last week, Stoyanova said that she received assurances from Iskrov that he would resign on June 19, making what was intended to be a joke by saying that she would personally “beat up” Iskrov if he did not, only for the central bank to react sharply later that afternoon to say that Stoyanova did not have any authority to speak for the BNB governor and described her words as “an attempt to put pressure on an independent institution”.)
The rules envision that all nominees will present their cases at a hearing of parliament’s budget and finances committee, rather than on the House floor, as suggested by the nationalist Patriotic Front, which backs the government. MPs will then be allowed to ask questions, with nominees given up to 10 minutes to answer them.
In terms of nominations, only parliamentary groups will be allowed to make them, as opposed to individual MPs, as suggested by one proposal.
So far, the majority partner in the ruling coalition, GERB, has presented its nominee-to-be Dimitar Radev, a former deputy finance minister who has worked for the International Monetary Fund since 2001, in meetings with other parliamentary groups last month.
The Patriotic Front said on June 10 that it would nominate Grigori Vazov, president of the private School of Insurance and Finance university, while the Bulgaria for Citizens party of Deputy PM Meglena Kouneva said recently that it intended to nominate Bisser Manolov, the former head of the state deposit guarantee fund.
Under the rules approved on June 10, Manolov’s name would have to be put forth by the Reformist Bloc centre-right coalition, of which Kouneva’s party is a member, but that could be complicated if the other major party in the coalition, Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, wanted to have its own candidate. Reformist Bloc MP Martin Dimitrov told BNR that the coalition had not discussed Manolov’s possible nomination yet.
(Bulgarian National Bank photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)