Saeima backs bill to limit term of office for central banker

The Saeima Budget and Finance (Taxation) Committee on March 14 agreed to advance the adoption of a bill that would limit the number of times a person can serve as Bank of Latvia governor to two consecutive terms.

The committee, however, rejected a proposal that would make it easier to remove the central bank’s head from office.

The committee also rejected draft amendments to the Law of the Bank of Latvia proposed by the Unity faction in Saeima. Unity proposed to write in the law that the Bank of Latvia governor’s powers can be suspended if the central bank’s head, his deputy or a member of the bank’s council has been declared a suspect or charged in a criminal probe.

The draft legislation proposed by Unity also contained a provision that would shorten the Bank of Latvia governor’s term in office to five years from six years. The proposal, supported by the Budget and Finance (Taxation) Committee, does not provide for changing the length of the governor’s office term but only sets the two-term limitation.

Under the current Law on the Bank of Latvia, Saeima can only remove the central bank’s governor from office on the basis of his own resignation letter or for serious violations of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and the European Central Bank (ECB). The Bank of Latvia governor can also lose office if he gets convicted.

As reported, Saeima has called for the resignation of Bank of Latvia Governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs who is under investigation for corruption. Rimšēvičs, however, considers the parliament’s call for his resignation as “documented political pressure” and says he has no intention to stand down, according to his lawyer Saulvedis Vārpiņš.

Rimšēvičs, who is suspected of extorting and accepting a bribe worth at least €100,000, has decided not to step down and insists that he is innocent. The Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) has banned Rimšēvičs from leaving Latvia and heading the central bank.

Rimšēvičs has Latvia's central banker since 2001. 

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