President proposes Urmas Varblane as next Bank of Estonia board chair

Urmas Varblane.
Urmas Varblane. Source: ERR/ Laura Raudnagel

President Alar Karis has proposed Urmas Varblane as the Bank of Estonia's (Eesti Pank) new supervisory board chair, replacing Mart Laar, whose second term ends next month.

The head of state sent his proposal to the Riigikogu for voting.

Urmas Varblane is a professor of international business at the University of Tartu.

President Karis was full of praise for Varblane, whom he said was one of the most prominent economists in Estonia at present, citing his hundreds of scientific publications and regular participation in public discussions on economic policy.

"In taking into estimation the current high levels of inflation and the tightening up of monetary policy in Estonia, any new [Eesti Pank] supervisory board chair will be taking office at a difficult time," the president said.

"In order to discharge the central bank's tasks, ensuring its reliability and independence is required," he went on.

"In my view this task can best be met by a politically independent supervisory board chair, who has a strong background in economics. Urmas Varblane's career so far has proven that he meets both these conditions," the head of state went on, noting that Varblane is in any case a current supervisory board member.

This would ensure continuity when the job changes hands, since Varblane is familiar with the central bank's workings, Varblane added.

Varblane is also a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences (Eesti Teaduste Akadeemia).

The Riigikogu will hold a secret ballot in respect of Varblane's candidacy, and a straight majority at the 101-seat chamber is required. Each MP is entitled to ask one question of the candidate, ahead of the vote.

Mart Laar, 63 is a former prime minister and champion of Estonia's flat tax rate, introduced in the 1990s during his tenure in office.

Laar has held the post of Bank of Estonia supervisory board chair over two, consecutive five-year terms, the second and last of which ends on June 12.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

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