Sunday 18 August 2019

Top New Zealand Treasury official to head Central Bank

The Central Bank
The Central Bank

David Chance

The Central Bank of Ireland is to be headed by a top Treasury official from New Zealand, Gabriel Makhlouf, in a surprise decision from Minister of Finance Paschal Donohoe.

It is understood that Mr Makhlouf, who is the New Zealand government’s chief economic and financial adviser, will take his post when Philip Lane heads to Frankfurt in June as Chief Economist at the European Central Bank.

His appointment is a blow to the hopes of the Central Bank’s Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery, who had hoped to become the first female head of the bank, as well as to a number of other well connected insiders.

He worked in the UK civil service where his responsibilities ranged from policy development on domestic and international tax and welfare policy and was chair of the world’s main tax rule-making body – the Committee on Fiscal Affairs – at the OECD in Paris between 2000-2004.

On the appointment, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said Mr Makhlouf brings much experience to the role and said there was a comprehensive international recruitment process.

"I am delighted to nominate a person of Gabriel Makhlouf’s international calibre for appointment as Governor of our Central Bank," he said.

"He is a leader of the diversity and inclusion agenda in New Zealand’s public and private sectors. He will bring with him this wealth of experience to the role of Governor."

Mr Makhlouf is expected to take up the role in September.

The government signed off on Mr Makhlouf's nomination as Central Bank governor today.

At a post-Cabinet press conference it was put to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that there was surprise that Sharon Donnery was not appointed as the next governor and he was asked about the logic of that decision.

It was also suggested to him that the decision for the job to go to a treasury official from New Zealand was a "bolt from the blue".

Mr Varadkar said: "The logic was that the position should go to the best candidate.

"It wasn’t restricted to Ireland, it wasn’t restricted to any one gender or anyone who was or was not currently working in the Central Bank so it was done really the way top jobs should be filled.

"There was an open international advertisement, people submitted their CVs, there was a shortlist.

"There were interviews, and the interview panel recommended one name to Government and that name was accepted by Government."

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