“I don’t really understand why is it necessary to replace Smoliy (current head of the National Bank of Ukraine, - ed.),” says Pavlo Melnik, an analyst at the MPP Consulting agency in his commentary to 112.ua. “He coped with a global task of maintaining hryvnia. Another thing is why he was given such a task.” But let's talk about the dollar and the currency rate later. Now, let's speak about whether the current head of the National Bank, Yakiv Smoliy, will resign. Spoiler: yes, he will. A number of informed persons speak about it, first of all - MP from "The servant of the people" Oleksandr Dubinsky. And Dubinsky, as you know, is close to the oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, who (which is also known) is waging a war to return PrivatBank, and therefore comes up against both - the government and the leadership of the National Bank of Ukraine.
Why he will reside?
Volodymyr Zelensky, who was quite sternly to undertake the reboot of government (and began, as you know, with the dissolution of the parliament), for a long time "did not touch" the National Bank. Perhaps because, as ex-Prime Minister Honcharuk was not strong of the problems of the economy. And perhaps because for the time being he did not want to spoil relations with the IMF, whose leadership would not be delighted with replacing Smoliy.
But times have changed, and now the president has ripened for more radical cleanups. Regardless of whether international donors will like them or not. The dismissal of personnel of Poroshenko and Hontareva is a matter of principle for him. But apart from the presidential ambition, there are other, more serious reasons for showing Yakiv Smoliy the door.
Experts say that claims of an exclusively professional nature have now grown ripe against the head of the National Bank. Take at least the "cheap dollar" mentioned by Pavlo Melnik. For rating of Zelensky, the stability of the national currency was important, but this decision itself seems to be very doubtful, political analyst Kirylo Sazonov comments to 112.ua.
"This decision significantly affected our exporters. It happened so that people who deal with metals, steel, and the agricultural industry lost their contracts and received deficit."
“We saw the NBU’s super-tough policy and the very aggressive domestic policy of the Ministry of Finance. As a result, we received a 15% hryvnia strengthening, which destroyed the profitability of Ukrainian companies. These were actually man-made, artificial factors created by key government institutions,” financial analyst Oleksiy Kushch adds.
But apart from the currency rate, there is another problem. The National Bank was expected to restore credit financing, but this did not happen. The lending rate was reduced only in December (by 2%), but rapid bank credit growth did not happen. Thus, Smoliy did not cope with the task that President Zelensky personally set before him.
But that is not all. There are also two separate stories, one of them - about PrivatBank, the other one - about the conflict between the leaders of the National Bank and the board of the National Bank, that is, between Yakiv Smoliy and Bohdan Danylyshyn.
In fact, Danylyshyn (Minister of Economy in the Government of Yulia Tymoshenko and chairman of the Board of the National Bank from 2016) is one of the possible candidates for the position of the head of the NBU. His confrontation with Smoliy is rather tough. According to some analysts, the basis of the conflict is purely personal, because Danylyshyn is aiming for the seat of the head of the National Bank ("he may want it, but it is a big question whether Danylyshyn will be offered such a position," Kyrylo Sazonov says).
“After changing the law On the National Bank of Ukraine in 2015, the board received boundless powers and authority and actually got out of any effective control,” Danylyshin wrote on its Facebook page. “I appeal to the Verkhovna Rada: the National Bank of Ukraine needs to be made truly independent from the decisions of the current or future board members who accept them at their discretion."
In addition to Danylyshyn’s social media posts, in December 2019, the NBU board formulated a list of weaknesses in the work of the National Bank. In addition to the two already mentioned weaknesses (too high bank rates, which hurt lending, and too strong hryvnia currency rate), Smoliy, as the NBU chairman, is blamed for the inability to fight inflation, and also for the ongoing “banks drop off” in the country and the overestimated role of the IMF. Because, as you know, it is the NBU which is more often than other government agencies to make communications about the importance of maintaining the Fund’s program for Ukraine.
One way or another, and at the end of last year, such theses were not heard. The MPs ignored the proposal to amend the law on the National Bank and rewrite the powers of the NBU leadership. But meanwhile, what the National Bank's advice says is not just a voice crying in the desert. After all, it is it who can advise the president to dismiss Smoliy. However, the final say on the decision is up to the president.
And while he makes his decision, the NBU press service is responding to all reproaches from Bohdan Danylyshyn and the bank’s council. "Why are the conclusions that appear in the decisions of the NBU council not consistent with the strategic priorities that the same board sets for the NBU? Why does a part of the NBU board persistently "pushing” evaluative judgments into the decisions of the collegial body instead of discussing them during professional economic discussions? Why does the NBU council ignore "the long-term effect that NBU policy has on the economy and focuses on short-term consequences contrary to economic logic?" The answer to all these questions suggests itself: the political reasons of individual members of the NBU board," reads the statement of the press service.
And here Kolomoisky comes to the fore!
Actually, many things begin with political motivation and end with it in Ukraine. The problem that separated Danylyshyn and Smoliy on opposite sides of the barricades is PrivatBank. If shortly - Smoliy is against the return of the financial institution to its former owner, but Danylyshyn ...
This is a matter of either judicial decisions or other procedures: it all depends on what Kolomoisky shall propose to the state and what tactics the current owners of the bank will choose. This is a matter of constructive business negotiations between the former and the current owners, and I call for a constructive dialogue," the head of the NBU board emphasized.
The position is rather well-oiled, but it is more pleasant for Kolomoisky than Smoliy's categorical disagreement to return PrivatBank. So is there an oligarch’s hand in the case of the possible dismissal of the current head of the NBU? The answer to this question is less obvious than it might seem at first glance. If the resignation of Smoliy will be launched, then, quite possibly, for some other reasons.
"The president continues the operation on cleaning up the government’s structures from the Soros-people. "He has already removed them from the government, and now he is removing them from the National Bank. And Smoliy is quite close to international financial institutions," Kyrylo Sazonov says.
At the same time, Artem Sytnik, who is far from the National Bank, also claims that he is being pressed because of PrivatBank. A certain oligarch, the chairman of National Anti-Corruption Bureau, who stole money from the state, instead of returning them to the budget, "organizes events near NABU, parliament, and the government."
"Recently, the Prosecutor General has accumulated all the cases in NABU, now they are at the final stage. And only the lack of expertise delays the adoption of these decisions for the near future. You all know which oligarch provides media support for all these events. And which oligarch organizes the collection of signatures in parliament." - complains Sytnik, who is at risk of resigning, as well as Smoliy.
So, if the long arm of Kolomoisky is to be blamed for everything, does this mean that "his fellow-man" will become the next head of the National Bank? Experts say it's far from a fact.
Yatsenyuk refutes fakes
“Now it’s difficult to predict who will chair the National Bank. There will be a lot of bidding, and in the end the winner will become the one, chosen by the president,” Kyrylo Sazonov said. He shares his insider information: another extraordinary session of the parliament will be convened to resolve the issue with the National Bank.
But Bohdan Petrenko says that during the search for the successors of Smoliy, the situation with the candidates for ministers who could not be found in the proper amount could be repeated.
“On the eve of the economic crisis caused by both the unprofessionalism of the Ukrainian authorities and the world disaster - the coronavirus, there are very few people who are ready to head the National Bank. The same applies to the Ministry of Economics because these kamikaze perfectly understand that in the future people will associate them with all their troubles. And after the first incident they will be replaced by others," he said.
By the way, recently, ex-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was listed among the kamikazes. It seems that he used to such kind of challenges, but Arseniy Petrovich for some reason was very offended. He categorically refuted his possible appointment to the post of head of the NBU and even called such rumors "Goebbels lie". He stated that he did not ask the Ze-team, and all the contrary statements are part of Russian propaganda.
"According to Yatsenyuk, this is an entire fake," Kyrylo Sazonov says. And Bohdan Petrenko adds the following: “Those funds spent on advertising the return of Yatsenyuk say that he is not against such a scenario. For him, perhaps, the story with Tihipko is an attractive story, who two and a half times returned back to power. But Yatsenyuk has not yet passed the time when everyone would forget about the negative image associated with his decline of his political capital.
But in any case, Yatsenyuk’s plans to return to power is another story.