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Armenia Names New Central Bank Chief


Armenia -- Martin Galstian, the sole candidate for the post of Central Bank governor, speaks in the parliament, Yerevan, April 16, 2020.

The National Assembly elected on Friday the next governor of the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) nominated by the ruling My Step alliance.

The 41-year-old Martin Galstian will replace the CBA’s outgoing governor, Artur Javadian, in June. Javadian has run the bank since 2008.

According to his official biography, Galstian joined the CBA even before graduating from the Economics Department of Yerevan State University in 2002. He also studied public administration at a Harvard University graduate school in 2009-2010.

Galstian has held various positions in the CBA for two decades. He was appointed to the bank’s governing board in September 2018.

Galstian was the only candidate nominated for the top CBA post. The Armenian parliament elected him for a six-year term by 104 votes to 15. With My Step holding 88 parliament seats, this means that he was also backed by 16 opposition lawmakers.

Galstian answered questions from dozens of deputies during Thursday’s parliament debate on his candidacy. Most of the questions related to the economic fallout from the coronavirus epidemic.

“People must be certain that in any case macroeconomic stability will be maintained, prices will remain stable and the financial system will function without disruptions,” he said.

He stressed that the CBA has eased some of its monetary regulations to help Armenian commercial banks suspend loan repayments of as many as 380,000 citizens hit hard by economic disruptions. Also, he said, it has already distributed 12 billion drams ($25 million) in government subsidies to the banks that will provide more than 1,000 low-interest loans to businesses and individual entrepreneurs.

Galstian spoke at the same of a “great uncertainty” about the epidemic’s impact on the Armenian economy. “Will there be only one wave [of infections?]” he asked. “Will it subside now but come back in the autumn? In that case, what will we do in the autumn if we take all possible [economic] measures now?”

In a recent report, the Central Bank forecast that economic growth in Armenia will practically grind to a halt this year. Government officials agreed with this projection.

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