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Serbian civil society organizations, institutions and individuals have stood against possible sacking of the head of the country's Central bank.
Serbian NGOs have filed an appeal calling on the new government "not to undermine the rule of law" by dismissing Dejan Soskic, head of the Central Bank of Serbia, NBS.
“It is a serious blow to the rule of law in Serbia to remove people from their offices by abusing the law-making powers of the Serbian parliament,” said the signatories to the appeal.
The move follows threatening statements by Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, who said earlier this month that Serbia's Central Bank governor, Dejan Soskic, may lose his job if he keeps on “tightening the [financial] belt” rather than seeking to stimulate growth.
The nationalist-led government comprised of the Progressives, the Socialists and the United Regions of Serbia, has pledged to reform the fiscal sector, curb state spending, and improve transparency in public procurement. However, they have refused to freeze pensions and salaries in the public sector, as the Bank deems necessary.
The Socialists also say they want the new government to draw on Serbia's foreign reserves to stimulate the economy, a policy that Soskic strongly opposes.
The Central Bank is one of the few state institutions to have so far preserved its independence while maintaining relative stability in the financial system.
In recent months, the Bank has succeeded in getting the annual inflation rate below 3 per cent, a record low.
Soskic, a non-party expert elected as governor in 2010, cannot easily be replaced as his mandate does not expire until 2016.
If he does not withdraw voluntarily, parliament could either change the law on the Central Bank, or use the existing law to attempt to prove him guilty of "improper and negligent performance of functions and serious mistakes in decision-making".
The statement by the NGOs also said that the procedure for dismissal of the governor, stipulated by the Law on the NBS, serves as guarantee of his independence.
According to the statement, if the new government assesses that the governor meets all the criteria for dismissal, it is obligated to warn the Council of the Governor, as the only institution which is competent to determine the Governor's responsibility.
The appeal was signed by the Civic Initiative, Belgrade Center for Human Rights, Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights YUCOM, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Policy Center, Center for Cultural Decontamination, Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, Center for Development of Civic Society, Biljana Kovacevic Vuco Fund, Humanitarian Law Center, Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Open Society Foundation.
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