Latvian central banker says he still has plenty to do

Latvia's central bank governor, Ilmārs Rimšēvičs said January 16 he hoped tinkering with the tax system would now come to an end, saying it was "complex and difficult" for accountants and other financial professionals to adjust to new rules as Latvia switches from a flat-rate to a progressive tax system with training courses required to keep them abreast of the latest rules.

Apprearing on the Krustpunktā (At the Crossroads) radio show, Rimšēvičs insisted:

"My greatest hope is that after these tax changes we will see...  a stable system for at least the next four years and that after the elections [in October this year] nothing will change and there will be no new surprises."

The central banker who has been at the bank since 1992 and has been governor since 2001 also defended the use of the bank in recent years as a some-time think-tank floating ideas about healthcare and education reforms as well as recommendations on tax policy in addition to its core task of managing the circulation of money and helping to maintain the stability of the euro currency in Latvia.

Part of the bank's purpose was to explain how things like rapid payment systems work and the implications of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.

"We are consultants to the government with regard to monetary matters," he said, citing an upcoming event marking 10 years since the financial crisis as an example. 

The central banker also defended his own high salary, and said that his repayments of a large loan used to buy a luxury apartment in Jūrmala a decade ago had helped to "warm up the Latvian economy" over the repayment period. 

Responding to calls from members of the public, he also said that it was not fair to describe him as a "marionette" now that, following Latvia's euro accession in 2014, most of the decisions relating to the euro are taken in Brussels and Frankfurt. 

It was not true that the central bank had, in effect, "nothing to do" he told one caller.

"Nothing has changed. In joining the eurozone Latvia became a member of an eighteen-member club - it's like saying that if Latvia joins NATO it automatically liquidates its army. The Latvian central bank still has all the functions it had before 2014. Absolutely nothing has changed," he insisted.

 

 

 

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