March 13, 2019 / 11:16 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Next Slovak central bank head Kazimir says don't panic over slowdown

(Adds Kazimir details, quotes)

BRATISLAVA, March 13 (Reuters) - Slovakia’s Finance Minister Peter Kazimir, ratified on Wednesday as its next central bank governor, said forecasts showing a broad-based economic slowdown were no reason to panic despite trade-related risks.

Kazimir will take over at the National Bank of Slovakia in June after leaving government - where he has gained a reputation as a fiscal hawk - and also become his country’s representative on the European Central Bank’s governing council.

The ECB last week pushed out the timing of interest rate hikes until 2020 at the earliest and offered banks a new round of cheap loans to help revive a stuttering euro zone economy.

Kazimir declined to comment on monetary policy after President Andrej Kiska appointed him on Wednesday. But he told reporters the bloc’s situation now differed from the run-up to the 2008 global financial crisis.

“Each new outlook from Slovakia, Europe or globally shows growth is slowing down. But there is no need to panic,” he said.

“(In)... 2008 when we were drunk and institutionally blind, unable to see the abyss we had approached. Since then, a lot of energy has been devoted to preventing this (crisis) from happening again.”

He said Slovakia still belonged among countries with strong growth outlooks though risks existed related to Brexit and global trade wars.

“It’s not about economy, it’s about politics... We are a few days ahead of a drama that may unravel,” he said, referring to the British parliament’s rejection of a Brexit plan on Tuesday.

Referring also to fraught U.S.-China trade talks, he said: “If we manage to deal with these problems I see no reasons not to continue smoothly in the economic cycle.”

Kazimir, 50, who will succeed Jozef Makuch at the central bank in a move originally scheduled for March, said he would also leave the ruling Smer party. The government has given no indication as to who might replace him as finance minister.

In government since 2012, Kazimir has often echoed Germany’s tough line towards euro zone countries that fail to meet fiscal commitments.

He oversaw a narrowing of Slovakia’s public deficit, targeted to fall to zero this year and, as a deputy finance minister, helped guide its accession to the euro zone in January 2009. (Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova Writing by Jason Hovet; editing by John Stonestreet)

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