The Verkhovna Rada has recently appointed former chief of state bank Oschadbank Andriy Pyshnyy as head of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). Mr. Pyshnyy will replace Kyrylo Shevchenko, who resigned citing health reasons.
The main question now is how the central bank’s policy will change with a new chairman. Personally, I’m sure the best scenario for Ukraine would be just the change of surnames.
The Russian war against Ukraine caused unprecedentedly many challenges for our state, its economy, financial and banking sectors. From the very beginning of the war the NBU handled this stress test exceptionally well. The bank turned out to be ready for these challenges and provided essential support to the Ukrainian financial sector and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. Moreover, the banking system not only withstood, but has been working continuously during already seven months of full-scale military aggression of Russia.
Just two key indicators of the NBU’s work after seven months of war speak for itself.
First of all, the annual inflation rate in Ukraine was 23.8 percent in August of 2022. Of course, that inflation rate is high but it is also in other European countries, although there is no war within their territories.
For example, the August inflation rate in Estonia reached 25.2 percent, in Moldova 34.3 percent, in Turkey 80.2 percent. Lithuania and Latvia did not perform much better, where inflation has exceeded 21 percent. The fact that, despite all shocks caused by the war and global economic trends, Ukraine doesn’t face hyperinflation is the result of the central bank’s efforts.
Second, Ukraine didn’t burn its international reserves. From April to July, NBU-supported state budget and international reserves tended to decrease but in August this indicator shows growth again and reached the level of $25.4 bn.
Obviously, some experts and, especially, international partners of Ukraine are a little bit skeptical about the very idea of changing state executives during the war, especially considering such impressive results of the NBU in overcoming military crisis. However, it’s not the time to jump to conclusions or speculation and the concrete results of the NBU’s work under a new chairman should be observed and evaluated.
As for me, one of the crucial key performance indicators of success will be the fact the NBU will remain an independent regulator as it is now. In Turkey we can see the results when one man in power dictates monetary policy for the whole country. Instead, the U.S. showed an example of how strong institutions can survive and save a national economy no matter what, even despite Donald Trump winning the elections.
That’s why, it’s vital to ensure institutional independence of the NBU, macro-financial stability and sustainability of the banking systemof Ukraine until victory and beyond.
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