Ukraine to appoint new central bank head by September: finance minister

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Ukraine will appoint a new central bank governor probably by September, the country’s finance minister said on Thursday, and is planning a $1 billion eurobond to make its first return to debt markets since its IMF bailout.

Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk speaks during an interview with Reuters in Nicosia, Cyprus May 11,2017. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk told Reuters in an interview that Kiev had a number of candidates, including a “preferred” candidate, for the central bank chief position.

He would not name who that candidate was, saying it was a decision to be made by the country's president. But he said Volodymyr Lavrenchuk, the head of Raiffeisen's RBIV.VI Ukrainian unit, had "all the necessary qualities to be an effective governor."

“There are several candidates, there is one favored candidate so when this person will be appointed is late in the Summer.” Asked whether that was likely to be September after parliament’s summer recess, he said: “That’s the plan.”

Danylyuk added that IMF staff would be back in Ukraine next week and that Kiev’s parliament would pass a long-anticipated package of reforms by mid-July that the fund has made one of the conditions for its support.

That could also lead to it combining a trio of the IMF’s loan tranches into one big one by the end of the year.

“Maybe it would be a good idea to amend the schedule of installments,” Danylyuk said adding that it had not been formally discussed with the IMF yet.

The IMF stepped in with a $17.5 billion bailout program for Ukraine as the nation neared bankruptcy following the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and the outbreak of the Russian-backed separatist insurgency in its industrial east.

Kiev expects three more tranches of the funding this year but disbursements are dependent on meeting IMF conditions, including structural reforms and tackling corruption. Since 2015, Kiev has received about $8 billion in IMF aid.

“Another (IMF) mission is coming in mid-May, pretty much next week,” Danylyuk said. “We will work with them again on finalizing the pension reform, the land market reform and law on privatizations.”

Kiev’s main strain though remains hostilities with Moscow.

Danylyuk held no bilateral meetings with his Russian counterparts at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s annual meeting where he was speaking, and will lodge a legal appeal in a $3 billion debt dispute with Russia in early June.

He also acknowledged the importance of the West’s ongoing support.

EBRD shareholder governments voted against Russia on Wednesday which had challenged the development bank’s ongoing ban on Russian investments. Uncertainty over a change of tack from the U.S. under Donald Trump also seems to be subsiding.

“Yesterday’s (EBRD) decision not to restart operations was very important, I’m very thankful for that.”

Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Toby Chopra