| LONDON, April 27
LONDON, April 27 The European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development backed Volodymyr Lavrenchuk on
Thursday, the head of Raiffeisen's Ukrainian unit, to
take over the country's central bank and pursue reform.
Former central bank governor Valeria Gontareva resigned
earlier this month, depriving the country of a tough reformer.
The EBRD has been pumping as much as a billion euros a year
into Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea by Russia, but
become concerned enough to warn this month that some of the
country's key reforms were in danger of unravelling.
On Thursday, Francis Malige, the EBRD's regional head in
Ukraine, said the international community remained "very
supportive" of Kiev's reform path, but wanted the progress of
the past three years "protected and sustained."
"In that regard, one must welcome, if it is confirmed, the
nomination of Volodymyr Lavrenchuk to replace the outgoing
governor of the National Bank," Malige told Reuters.
Lavrenchuk has also been backed by former Ukraine prime
minister Arseny Yatseniuk, who called him a "good guy", adding
that it was better if a profession banker took the job rather
than a politician.
Regarding the state-run gas firm Naftogaz, about which the
EBRD has been most vocal in its concerns, Malige added it was on
everyone's radar as a bellwether of anti-corruption efforts.
"We had very constructive dialogue with the authorities and
I am now confident that we are in a much better place," he said.
"We are pushing for the second stage of the agreed plan to
improve corporate governance in Naftogaz: giving the board the
actual responsibilities and accountabilities that comply with
good international standards of corporate governance," he said.
Progress was also needed this year on land reform, pension
reform, state owned enterprises reform and their eventual
privatisation, he added.
Malige also mentioned two other crucial jobs that need
filling alongside the one at the central bank.
"The head of the state fiscal service, which will have to
reinvent the service to root out the corruption," he said.
"The head of the state property fund too, who can make a
very important difference in the privatisation programme, which
has been a total failure so far."
(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Tom Heneghan)