New President Appointed to Venezuela's Central Bank

Venezuela's central bank has appointed a new head at the request of President Nicolas Maduro, while the country's foreign exchange administration is also under new management.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Tovar is seen as aligned with the market-friendly policies of Merentes (archive)
Tovar is seen as aligned with the market-friendly policies of Merentes (archive)

Mérida, 14th August 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela's central bank has appointed a new head at the request of President Nicolas Maduro, while the country's foreign exchange administration is also under new management.

On Tuesday, the National Assembly (AN) approved a nomination from Maduro to appoint Eudomar Tovar to head the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV).

Tovar replaces the former commerce minister Edmee Betancourt, who was appointed to head the BCV following Maduro's victory in the 14 April presidential elections. Betancourt replaced Nelson Merentes, who now heads the finance ministry.

“Congratulations to the new president of the Central Bank of Venezuela, we'll keep creating a prosperous economy for the people,” Maduro tweeted following the AN approval.

No reason was given for Betancourt's replacement. Prior to Tuesday, Maduro hadn't publicly indicated that he was considering a reshuffle.

According to think-tank Ecoanalitica, Tovar is more aligned with Merentes, who has advocated for more market oriented policy than Jorge Giordani, who headed finance and planning for most of the Chavez government. Giordani is a supporter of maintaining firm currency and price controls. He now serves as planning minister, after Merentes was appointed to the finance ministry. Maduro tasked Merentes with lowering inflation. “We have to lower inflation...[and] we must control speculative factors,” Maduro stated at the time.

“With Tovar's designation at the central bank, Merentes has acquired more power over the economic cabinet,” Ecoanalitica tweeted yesterday.

Tovar holds a masters degree in currency and financial institutions, specialising in customs and foreign trade.

As Tovar leaves behind his previous position heading the Foreign Exchange Administration Commission (Cadivi), Maduro has replaced him with Jose Khan.

“I have appointed Jose Khan as president of Cadivi to continue transforming the Venezuelan currency system,” Maduro tweeted a few minutes after congratulating Tovar.

Khan has previously held the vice presidency of Cadivi, ministry of industry and mining and has served on the BCV board.

Despite sharing a trade union background with Maduro, Ecoanalitica described Khan as “a figure close to Merentes”.

The reshuffle comes on the heels of a second month of falling inflation, following a spike in consumer prices earlier this year.