The Georgian Dream party has accused President Salome Zurabishvili of creating problems for the “smooth functioning” of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) by failing to nominate candidates for two vacant seats in the NBG Board.
The ruling party stressed that there are two vacancies on the NBG board and that the bank had been without a president since March. 2 According to Georgian Dream, during the consultations between the President and the ruling party, Salome Zurabishvili had “confirmed her readiness” to nominate Lasha Khutsishvili, the incumbent Finance Minister, as one of the members of the NBG Board.
“After filling the composition of the Board with at least one member, it would be possible to appoint the President of the National Bank,” the ruling party said, adding that, despite this, “the President has violated all the agreed deadlines and has not yet submitted a candidate for membership of the NBG Board to the Parliament.”
The Georgian Dream party clarified that according to one of the agreements, Salome Zurabishvili would submit the candidacy of Lasha Khutsishvili to the Parliament if the latter did not override her veto on the draft law on the National Bank. However, during yesterday’s consultations with the ruling team, President Zurabishvili said that she did not plan to present the candidates to the Parliament until the end of the year.
“There are clear signs that the President of Georgia is deliberately creating obstacles to the smooth functioning of the National Bank of Georgia,” the Georgian Dream said, adding: “In this situation, the Georgian Parliament will have to override the veto.” “The Georgian Parliament will complete the procedure of overriding the veto in the next session week.”
“The ruling team cannot allow an institutional crisis in any state institution and will take care of the smooth functioning of each constitutional body. This is the responsibility of the ruling team before our state and Georgian voters,” the party said in its statement.
President’s administration responds
In response to the ruling party’s accusations, the presidential administration announced that “the activity of the National Bank of Georgia is not affected.” The President’s Parliamentary Secretary, Giorgi Mskhiladze, emphasized at a recent news briefing that “the duties of the NBG President are being performed by one of the most qualified, experienced and professional persons” and that the process of appointing the NBG President will not be delayed.
“The NBG Board can present the candidacy of the head of the bank already today. The selection process of board members initiated by the President is not related to this presentation and does not hinder anything,” he said.
Regarding the nomination of Lasha Khutsishvili, the incumbent Finance Minister, as a member of the NBG Board, the Parliamentary Secretary clarified that “the President really considered his candidacy and believed that his professionalism, experience and qualifications met the criteria.”
“However, one of the most important criteria – candidate’s independence – raised questions, which were reinforced by the government’s categorical demand to nominate Lasha Khutsishvili, constant pressure and blackmail on the President,” he said, adding that “what really damages and hinders the NBG’s activities is today’s announcement by the ruling party, which finally revealed that the mentioned candidate is the only alternative not only for the government, but also for the ruling party.”
“What really served and protected the interests of the National Bank was the President’s veto, and what damages the reputation of the bank and the country is the threat of the ruling party to override the veto,” he emphasized.
Note: This article was updated on June 7, 2023 to reflect the statement of the presidential administration.
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