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Ukraine parliament approves Shevchenko as new central bank chief

·2-min read

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament on Thursday approved the appointment of Kyrylo Shevchenko, head of the state-run Ukrgasbank, as the new governor of the country's central bank.

Shevchenko said at his confirmation hearing earlier that he supported an independent bank that would contribute to economic growth by ensuring low inflation and economic stability.

Ukrainian dollar bonds jump more than 4 cents after the parliament's decision.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday nominated Shevchenko, currently head of the state-run Ukrgasbank, to become the new governor two weeks after his predecessor Yakiv Smoliy quit over what he called systematic political pressure.

Shevchenko, 47, had been tipped by local media to become the next governor since February. He criticised monetary policy under Smoliy as hawkish and said the latter had let the hryvnia currency appreciate, effectively raising the country's import costs.

He also praised government efforts to make loans cheaper for businesses.

"Of course, I support the policy of the National Bank aimed at ensuring the macroeconomic and macro-financial stability of the banking system," Shevchenko told parliament.

Shevchenko's appointment was supported by 332 lawmakers, easily clearing the required minimum of 226 votes needed.

"The government is ready to work with the National Bank to restore the economy, macroeconomic stability and the availability of credit," Prime Minister Denys Shmygal wrote on Twitter.

"The government and the National Bank have a common goal and task - it is to grow the country's economy and improve the welfare of all Ukrainians," he said.

Danylo Hetmantsev, the head of the parliament financial committee, said in parliament: "The questions to which Shevchenko gave an unequivocal answer: There will be no inflation, no uncontrolled (money-printing), the independence of the national bank will be preserved."

The sudden resignation of Smoliy had rattled markets and sparked concern at the International Monetary Fund, whose $5 billion stand-by assistance programme for Ukraine is contingent on the central bank being independent.

The IMF earlier this week appealed directly to President Zelenskiy, voicing "concerns about the pressures being put on the National Bank of Ukraine."

The American Chamber Of Commerce said in a statement after Shevchenko was approved: "The business community expects that the new Governor of the National Bank will maintain the NBU independence, continue its current trajectory, including monetary policy."

It said it hoped Shevchenko would ensure the bank cooperated with the IMF to boost economic growth.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Pavel Polityuk and Sergei Karazy; Editing by Alison Williams and Hugh Lawson)

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