IBNA Special Report/While the deputy governor of the Bank of Albania was designated a few days ago at the post of governor and while several media have not stopped speculating in the recent days about names of candidates for this post, the Albanian prime minister has dismissed every media hypothesis
Tirana, September 9, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
Albanian prime minister, Edi Rama says that the new governor of the Bank of Albania will not come from the ranks of politics. He says that the new governor will come from the world of the banking and financial system and that he or she will have international support.
This way, the prime minister has dismissed several speculations for names coming from politics. But, at the same time, he has also provoked other speculations relating to the name of the new governor of the Bank of Albania, encouraging speculations for names of experts and non political officials who will be elected for the post of the governor of the Bank of Albania.
“The appeal for the media”
“Don’t try to find a name among politicians or former politicians for the post of the governor”, told Mr. Rama to journalists who followed his news conference yesterday, a little before he departed for a long visit to China.
He said that the new governor of the Bank of Albania will come from the ranks of politics, stressing that the new governor will have a higher profile, will come from the world of the banking and financial system and will have international support.
Reshuffling in the Bank of Albania steering committee
Rama seemed to contradict himself when he said that “it’s very important for everyone to obtain a clear message that no vacancy has opened for the position of the governor of the Bank of Albania”, while further saying that a new name will replace the governor designate. Rama also said that “no vacancies have opened at the steering committee of the Bank of Albania”.
He promised, on the other hand, that the majority will not use its votes to elect the new governor and steering committee. “As far as the oversight committee is concerned, we will act quickly, determined, but without rushing and we will respect in every step that we take the independence of the institution and the principle that we have established since the start. This is not a process where the majority will use its votes to put the Bank of Albania under control or to position itself politically. We will not force the reputation of the Bank of Albania. This is the principle!”.
This declaration followed today the resignation of one of the members of the oversight committee, Adrian Civici, who is also the head of a private university in Tirana.
The prime minister said that “there are of course natural temptations, ambitions and natural stimulations to opt for those positions”, but said that “if this process is made a political one, then there will be a lack of vision and responsibility in relation to this situation”.
On the other hand, Mr. Rama admitted that the changes in the leading structures of the Bank of Albania will be made if they are approved by international financial institutions. “We’re in a situation where we must keep calm, act promptly, but without rushing and proceed with fair decisions, for which we need to have the consent of our international partners, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other institutions”.
“We want to give to the Bank of Albania a governor who will be accepted in the international arena as an incontestable professional and moral choice”, said Rama.
He also gave other elements of the “identity kit” of the new governor. “He will certainly come from the system, which means the financial and banking system”.
The government has no right to propose the new name
During his declarations, Mr. Rama briefly mentioned the fact that the government cannot propose any new names.
Yesterday, he said that he was clear on this, when he said that the change will be made in cooperation with the president of the Republic.
The situation is made more complex by the tense relations between majority and opposition. The Democratic Party has boycotted parliament and other state institutions. Rama appealed for the opposition to cooperate for the new name, but added that he doesn’t intend to address an invitation to leader Basha, like he claimed, “because enough invitations have been refused by him”.
The legal side of things makes the issue even more complicated, due to the provision of the Albanian law for the election of the governor.
Based on the law, the candidacy of the new governor must be proposed by the president of the republic and be voted in parliament. It’s difficult to believe that sides will put disputes aside and will solve this issue peacefully. This, due to the fact that during this time, there have been mutual accusations for responsibility in the current events at the Bank of Albania and attempts to put it under control.
Former minister Malaj: The legal framework must be improved
Former minister of Finance and Economy in socialist governments, Arben Malaj comments the scandal taken place at the Bank of Albania. He expresses the need to improve the legal framework of the Bank of Albania.
The known expert of economy considers the meetings of the heads of the state with members of the Bank of Albania far from international practices. “The meetings of the heads of the state in the offices of the central bank are not part of the practices of countries that respect the independence of the Central Bank”, said he.
“The current legal framework needs to be improved. Nonetheless, this framework has offered equilibrium between institutions of the Albanian state, parliament, government, president- to offer to the Bank of Albania independence in its functioning”, says Malaj.
Stopping in the necessary improvements, he adds: “The difference between the de jure independence and de facto independence has a number of important prerequisites to be met. The concept of independence is multi dimensional. Perhaps, this synthesized treatment of the European Central Bank could help in reducing political protagonism at the Bank of Albania and could encourage professional debate for the necessary legal and institutional improvements in the case of the Bank of Albania”.
Is the financial market shaking?
In the recent hours, suspicions have been cast in Albania that the amount which was stolen may be greater than 713 million ALL and that a criminal structural group could have been acting within the Bank.
The prosecution has called independent experts who will carry out once again the expertise at the Treasury Department. This investigative action is expected to be conducted as soon as possible, due to strong suspicions of the prosecution that the Bank of Albania may not have been honest in its audit when it declared that the amount stolen was 713 million ALL.
Prosecutors suspect that the theft is even greater and that it doesn’t only have one perpetrator. Prosecution suspects that Ardian Bitraj is not the only protagonist of the theft and that he was not only helped by Mimoza Bruzia and his nephew, Klevis Bejtjaj, but he has also collaborated with other people who are being investigated.
Prosecutors of the case say that it’s not very likely for the amount of 713 million ALL to have been taken out of the bank hidden on the body, like the arrested people claim.
In these circumstances, the duty of the new governor of the Bank of Albania will be very difficult. In spite of declarations that the situation is under control and that the deposits of the citizens are guaranteed, after the arrest of the highest officials of the Bank of Albania, Fullani and Golemi, the currency exchange market has seen fluctuations which have been a cause for concern.
While last week, the banks’ exchange rate for the Euro was 136 ALL and the Central Bank’s rate was 139 ALL, at the beginning of the week, this rate is 141 ALL. /ibna/