Mārtiņš Kazāks approved to become new Latvian central bank governor

Economist Mārtiņš Kazāks will become the new governor of the Latvian central bank (LB) December 21 after his candidacy was approved by Saeima on December 12.

Following a debate during which Saeima deputies from all sides offred their advice on how he should go about his new job, with many stressing the need to restore the reputation of the bank in the wake of the scandal that engulfed outgoing governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs. Most opinions expressed about him were positive, though the small group of independent deputies said they would abstain from the vote as he had not met with them as he had with the other political factions within Saeima.

Kāzaks won the decisive vote on giving him the position by 76 votes to 0 in the 100-member chamber.

Kazāks has worked for Swedbank and the Ministry of Finance. He has also worked as a lecturer at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and elsewhere and is a former member of the President's Strategic Analysis Commission, and a member of the Fiscal Discipline Council.

He holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Latvia in 1995 and graduated in economics from the University of Cambridge in 1996. He received a Master's degree in economics from the University of London in 1997 and a doctorate in economics in 2005.

In Kazāks' view the Bank of Latvia must become a stronger backbone of the Latvian financial system in which the functions of the central bank and the financial market supervisor - the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) - come together under the umbrella of the Bank of Latvia.

Kazāks will also now be Latvia's voice on the important governing council of the European Central Bank (ECB), playing a role in formulating monetary policy for the euro area, including decisions relating to monetary objectives, key interest rates, and the supply of reserves in the Eurosystem. The Governing Council usually meets twice a month at the ECB’s premises in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

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