Valeria Gontareva, the Ukrainian central bank chief who has been highly praised by Kiev’s western backers for ushering in a sweeping bank reform and stabilising the country’s economy after three years of Russian military intervention, has tendered her resignation.
“My mission is complete”, Ms Gontareva said on Monday, formally announcing her decision to step down within one month.
“The country has moved to a flexible exchange rate and implemented the new monetary policy of inflation targeting. Secondly, the banking system has been cleansed of insolvent banks, and its future resilience strengthened”, she said.
Ms Gontareva pointed to critical decisions to address longstanding imbalances such as the switch from a pegged to floating currency, inflation targeting, and shutting down more than 80 banks used by vested interests for money laundering and pocket bank operations.
She stressed the central bank’s “consistent policies will continue” under institutional reforms and a management team she brought in over the past three years.
It was not immediately clear who would replace the 52-year old who has been a central figure in reform efforts and a main target of criticism by vested interests and increasingly populist opposition parties.
Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, is now to appoint a new governor for the National Bank of Ukraine to be approved by parliament.
In announcing its decision last week to disburse a fresh billion-dollar tranche from a $17.5bn assistance programme, the IMF – which was aware of Ms Gontareva’s widely reported plans to resign — urged Ukraine to “accelerate reforms” and build upon her achievements at the central bank.
The IMF said:
The National Bank of Ukraine has skilfully managed monetary policy during a very challenging period. It will be important to safeguard the NBU’s independence and for monetary policy to remain focused on containing inflation and rebuilding international reserves within a flexible exchange rate regime. This will also make room for the gradual removal of remaining administrative measures.