The outgoing central bank chief, Roman Gotsiridze, said it was his own decision to step down, but also hinted that politics may have been behind the decision.
“Politics is a complicated thing… I decided to step down because I had to take into consideration certain circumstances,” Gotsiridze told reporters on September 10, without elaborating further.
Gotsiridze's resignation had been touted by the media since May, when his annual report to the parliament was slammed by lawmakers from the ruling party. At the same time speculation first emerged that Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze wanted her close ally, MP Irakli Kovzanadze, chairman of the parliamentary committee for budgetary and financial issues, to replace Gotsiridze.
In late August, however, PM Zurab Nogaideli announced that the ex-finance minister, Lexo Alexishvili, was going to replace Gotsiridze. He also made it clear that it was the decision of President Saakashvili. However, Burjanadze publicly opposed the move, throwing the whole nomination process into disarray. It is expected that a final decision will not be made till the end of September.
Meanwhile, Gotsiridze has defended his record as president of the National Bank, saying his time there was extremely successful.
“Today we announced – and it is very symbolic – that the National Bank’s foreign currency reserves reached a record high USD 1.4 billion,” Gotsiridze said. “When I become the President of the National Bank [in March 2005] this figure stood at only USD 200 million.”
Gotsiridze refused to give details of his next career move.
“You will learn about it very soon,” he said. “My future occupation will be as successful as my previous activities as head of the parliamentary budgetary committee and especially as the National Bank president.”