Government rejects resignationSaturday, January 30, 2010
Redrado calls it quits
Declaring his “time is up” and before a special advisory committee in Congress had time to issue its recommendations concerning his future, Central Bank chief Martín Redrado called an unexpected press conference last night to announce his resignation.
Redrado told a news conference at a downtown hotel that he had “done his duty” and defended his opposition to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s bid to use 6.57 billion dollars in Central Bank reserves to service the country’s debt this year.
“They (the government) intended to overrun the Central Bank and bring everything down,” he said.
“I feel that my time in the Central Bank is up,” said Redrado, who had appeared increasingly isolated this week after the Bank’s board of directors installed Deputy Governor Miguel Pesce as interim governor.
While Redrado was still adressing reporters, the government said it was not willing to accept his resignation now that proceedings have started in Congress.
“For us the resignation does not exist, we must await the resolution of Congress,” said Cabinet chief Aníbal Fernández."I've just decided finally to leave the job of Central Bank president, really with the satisfaction of knowing I did my duty," he said.
Fernández de Kirchner fired Redrado by decree on January 7, unleashing turmoil at the monetary authority and rattling financial markets, but a court reinstated him a day later.
Another court ruled that Congress should have a say on his fate, saying the government could not appoint a new permanent director until a congressional committee had issued its opinion.
The committee has been meeting this week but any recommendations will be non-binding and Pesce has been at the helm of the Central Bank in the meantime.
Redrado told a news conference he had "done his duty" and had decided it was time to step down. He said that he had fought until the very end "at great personal risk."
Redrado said that his aim was to "draw the line" institutionally to protect the independence of the Central Bank.
The special congressional committee is made up of Civic Coalition Deputy Alfonso Prat-Gay and ruling party Deputy Gustavo Marconato. The committee is presided over by Vice-President Julio Cobos, who split with the government and is now a leading critic of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Redrado, fielding questions from reporters, said he did not want to speculate politically about the outcome of the committee's assessment, which was scheduled to issue its non-binding counsel to the President on Tuesday. The committee, including Cobos, was expected to vote in favour of firing Redrado. But Redrado, who blamed the CFK administration for a "period of tension," said it made not sense to wait for the committee's report. "I feel that I am in a legal limbo," he said.
Redrado once against denied that he had told the daily Clarín that he had "lists of people with friends in high places" who had purchased dollars. He said that the President had "lost institutional respect" when she announced in December that she had established a Bicentennial Fund to use Central Bank reserves to guarantee that debt will be serviced this year.
Redrado also confirmed rumours that he had opposed a plan by then president Néstor Kirchner, the current President's husband, to use the Central Bank reserves to purchase the private oil company Repsol-YPF in 2006.
He said that he had guaranteed monetary, financial and currency exchange stability during his tenure.
Before the resignation, in his first public statement as chairman of the congressional committee that must give "advice" to Fernández de Kirchner on her decision to sack Redrado, Cobos yesterday told journalist the three-member panel had already reached a decision and the only thing left was to put its rationale on paper.
It was no secret that Cobos and the other two members of the advisory body, Marconato and Alfonso Prat Gay were poised to give the President the greenlight to get rid of Redrado after quashing her impulse to ignore lawmakers by means of issuing an emergency decree to fire the bank's governor bypassing Congress.
Cobos had echoed the ruling party lawmaker in saying that "we'll meet again on Tuesday at noon and we'll surely have our advice ready by the evening."
Deputy Elisa Carrió, the head of the Civic Coalition, last night issued a statement in support of Redrado's claim that the institutions had been overrun. But Carrió said that the congressional committee must still issue its advice on Tuesday.
Prat Gay yesterday spoke to the press with an eye on his home front. Carrió "has not asked me anything," he pointed out before the resignation. "My party's position is that all lawmakers who are members of evaluating committees are free to make their own judgements. I will surely discuss with Carrió my advice and its rationale but the decision will be my own," Prat Gay added.
Senator Ernesto Sanz, the Radical Party chairman, said that Redrado's situation was now a "secondary matter" with the issue of the Central Bank's reserves being handled by Congress.
Sanz urged the Cabinet chief to "accept Redrado's resignation."