Sunday 4 December 2016

The Yates Anthology: Professor must bring pragmatism to role

Published 24/10/2015 | 02:30

Professor Philip Lane
Professor Philip Lane

Money makes the world go round, the song tells us, a fact which makes the Central Bank (CB) Ireland's most important institution. Responsibility for the sustained stability of our financial institutions rests here. We know how failures in 2008 upended the entire economy, so the appointment of Governor is no minor matter.

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Brian Lenihan's appointee, Patrick Honohan, marked a departure from the old custom of nominating the former Department of Finance head - like TK Whitaker, Maurice Doyle, Maurice O'Connell and John Hurley. Dame Street was no longer to be the downtown office of Merrion Street.

Robert Watt is a most formidable and capable civil servant - currently spearheading the new Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, with its agendas to modernise the public service rooting out any potential restrictive practices. It is an ambitious plan for reform. And, to date, he achieved notable gains - albeit not as profound as he claims. He deserves promotion to Secretary General in finance, or perhaps in the Taoiseach's department. He's eminently employable in private sector.

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