Turkey fires central bank governor as differences deepen

ISTANBUL: Turkey has fired its central bank governor and replaced him with the bank’s deputy governor, a presidential decree published on the official gazette showed.

Murat Cetinkaya, who had been serving as the governor since April 2016, was removed from the role and was replaced by his deputy Murat Uysal, the order showed.

No official reason was given for the sacking, but markets have speculated over recent weeks that Cetinkaya may be pushed out by the government because of his reluctance to cut rates.

The central bank has faced pressure in the past from President Tayyip Erdogan to lower interest rates to boost economic growth.

Two government sources told Reuters that differences between the government and the governor over the conduct of monetary policy have deepened in the past few months.

“The difference of opinions between the governor and the ministers in charge of the economy has deepened in the recent period,” said one of the sources.

“The President and the finance minister demanded his resignation, but Cetinkaya reminded of the bank’s independence and declined to resign,” the other source said.

In a statement on Saturday, the central bank said it will continue to operate independently and that the new governor will focus on maintaining price stability as its key goal.

Data earlier in the week showed Turkey’s consumer inflation slowed to its lowest level in a year in June, mainly due to a high base effect from the prior year and a drop in food prices, potentially paving the way for the country’s first interest rate cut since last year’s currency crisis.

Analysts expect the central bank could ease monetary policy at a July 25 meeting if the lira is not hit this month by threatened U.S. sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system.