Serbian parliament elects new central bank governor

The Serbian parliament on Monday in Belgrade elected Jorgovanka Tabaković (SNS) as the new governor of the National Bank of Serbia.

Source: Beta

166 MPs were present for the vote. Tabaković's candidature was supported by 131 MPs, 34 were against, while one member of parliament abstained from voting.

The Serbian parliament started its extraordinary sitting this morning, debating the proposal for Jorgovanka Tabaković, a high ranking official of Serbia's ruling Serb Progressives (SNS), to be elected to the position. She was the only candidate.

President Tomislav Nikolić on Sunday sent his proposal to MPs to elect Tabaković, and urged them to call the debate using emergency parliamentary procedures. The parliament website published a letter sent from Nikolić to Speaker Nebojša Stefanović, containing his proposal, Tabaković's professional resume, and her consent to be appointed to the office.

The previous governor, Dejan Šoškić, resigned last week, saying that the changes to the Law on the NBS - that have in the meantime been adopted, and were meant to pave the way for his sacking - were endangering the work of this financial institution.

According to the amendments to the law adopted over the weekend, parliament will from now on elect and dismiss the governor and other NBS officials, based on proposals from the country's president.

"Right man" for the job - or "extended arm" of government?

During the debate on Monday, the ruling SNS and NS parties described Jorgovanka Tabaković as "the right man in the right place", while the opposition charged that her appointment would represent "continued political violence".

Opposition DS party MP Nada Kolundžija said that the Serb Progressives (SNS) "second-most important official" taking over as central bank governor meant that "there would be no depolitization" in Serbia, and that the new authorities - which she described as "the ruling clique" - intended to establish "a fully partisan state".

Kolundžija also stated that "this was a type of political violence that would slow down Serbia's progress toward the EU (membership).

Miroslav Markićević (NS) responded by saying that Tabaković was "an expert", who would be "even more independent than the law obligates her".

"While we're on the subject of independence, who should she be independent from, the citizens?," wondered Markićević, and added: "If it means 'independent from the current government and their interests' I'm all in favor, but not independent from the citizens."

Parliament Speaker Nebojša Stefanović said that Tabaković was "an excellent economic expert", and that the proposal to have her elected as the new NBS governor came from President Tomislav Nikolić - "who is not a partisan figure".

Nikolić resigned as SNS leader in the wake of his May 20 victory in the presidential elections.

Opposition DSS MP Miroslav Petković said that beside reading her resume, the Serbian parliament had not had a chance to hear about Tabaković's program, and added that he "did not expect the answers in the debate to come from her party colleagues, but from the governor who will head an independent institution."

"We are not against Tabaković as a person, an economic expert, nor against her resume, but the DSS does not support the government and we believe that she will be nothing but an extended arm of the government," he noted.

Petković posed a number of questions to the candidate, including about her appraisal of the future exchange rate, the limit after which the NBS will not be able to intervene in the market, ways to enable the stability of prices, activities that she would undertake if some foreign banks decided to leave, the implementation of the banking sector control, and her stance toward the IMF.

"I believe we will no have the answers to these questions today," Petković concluded.

Opposition LDP MP Žarko Korać said that Tabaković's candidature was unacceptable because she was a high ranking party official.

"Since 2000, no top party official has been proposed for governor," he asserted, and added that the LDP's opposition to the appointment "had nothing to do with her personality or knowledge", but that it was "about principles".

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