As Stournaras is lined up, outgoing central banker warns Greece needs growth plan

Outgoing Bank of Greece Governor Giorgos Provopoulos warned Wednesday that the country cannot just rely on its adjustment program moving forward but needs to develop its own growth plan, as the central lender’s general council recommended that ex-Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras should take his place.

Provopoulos said that he had helped guide the Greek banking system to a “safe haven” during his time in charge but urged the country’s politicians to do more to help Greece out of the crisis.

“The adjustment programs are necessary but not sufficient,” he said. “There is a need for a comprehensive national plan for growth that will have long-term aims and which will be faithfully implemented.”

The outgoing banker also called for “the biggest possible consensus of politicians and social forces” over such a scheme. However, the potential for such a wide agreement looks bleak in the short term, especially as Stournaras’s appointment as Provopoulos’s successor has riled SYRIZA.

Opposition leader Alexis Tsipras described it Wednesday as a “provocative move by the government, which is disregarding the political balance of power and the need for consultation over such an important position.” Speaking to his party’s MPs, Tsipras again suggested that a SYRIZA administration might seek to replace Stournaras, who is due to serve a five-year term.

Provopoulos said Stournaras was “the best choice” for the role. “He is not just a theorist; he knows about banking issues better than anyone else,” said Provopoulos.

Stournaras’s appointment has to be rubber-stamped by the Cabinet and there is also the matter of appointing his deputy as the tenure of the official currently occupying the position, Eleni Dendrinou-Louri, also expires on June 20. It is expected that Anastasia Sakellariou, the CEO of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), will take up the post.

Stournaras’s departure from the Finance Ministry, where he has been replaced by fellow economist Gikas Hardouvelis, will also lead to changes there. Professor Panos Tsakloglou, who was chairman of the Council of Economic Experts (CEE) and took part in the Euro Working Group (EWG) meetings, will depart from the ministry after taking in Wednesday’s EWG in Lisbon. Sources said that it is likely he will be replaced by Emmanouil Mamatzakis, who is a professor of finance at the University of Sussex and was a member of the CEE a few years ago. It is thought that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has sought his advice in the past.