New Zealand advisor surprise Lane successor

0
32

New Zealand advisor surprise Lane successor

Tax experience and UK civil service management skills help Makhlouf land role as new Central Bank Governor


New man: Gabriel Makhlouf will take up his post in September after Philip Lane heads to Frankfurt in June to become Chief Economist at the European Central Bank. Photo: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg
New man: Gabriel Makhlouf will take up his post in September after Philip Lane heads to Frankfurt in June to become Chief Economist at the European Central Bank. Photo: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg
Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery. Photo: Collins

The Central Bank of Ireland will be headed by a foreigner for the first time, after a surprise decision by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to hand the top job to Egypt-born Gabriel Makhlouf – a senior New Zealand finance official.

Mr Makhlouf, the New Zealand government’s chief economic and financial advisor, will take up the Irish job in September after Philip Lane heads to Frankfurt in June.

His appointment is a blow to the hopes of Central Bank Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery, who was tipped to become the first woman to head the bank.

Also in contention for the job were John Fell, an Irish official at the ECB, Robert Watt, the secretary-general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and former policy advisors Andrew McDowell and Colm O’Reardon.

The appointment breaks with recent policy of appointing heavy-hitting academic economists such as Dr Lane and Patrick Honohan to head the bank – and with the older pattern of handing the job to a senior civil servant.

The Taoiseach said the job went 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,” Leo Varadkar said after a cabinet meeting held in Cork.

As Central Bank Governor Mr Makhlouf will sit on the interest rate-setting ECB Governing Council, but a major factor tipping the decision in his favour is understood to be his organisational management skill.

The Central Bank has a staff of around 2,000, double pre-crash numbers and an increasingly diverse and complex set of functions. In a previous job at the British civil service Mr Makhlouf headed a 10,000-strong team responsible for policy development on domestic and international tax and welfare issues. Also helping swing the job was his experience as chair of the world’s main tax rule-making body – the Committee on Fiscal Affairs – at the OECD in Paris between 2000-2004.

Corporation tax policies remain critical to economic performance in Ireland.

Mr Makhlouf was born in Egypt, the son of a Greek Cypriot father and Greek-Armenian mother. His parents were UN diplomats and he has lived in the Congo, Bangladesh, Samoa, Fiji and Ethiopia as well as the UK, France and New Zealand.

In his current job he backed efforts to better assess “well-being” in the economy as well as “hard” economic numbers.

}
});

#bb-iawr-inarticle- { clear: both; margin: 0 0 15px; }

He was recently appointed as an observer to the New Zealand central bank’s rate-setting policy committee.

Here, he’ll have to get to grips with Brexit, domestic policy issues, ECB interest rates and the tail end of the tracker mortgage probe.

Indo Business