“My obligation was to leave,” says João Talone of Banco de Portugal's resignation

Appointed by Mário Centeno, four members of the BdP Advisory Council made their place available to their successor. One of these members, João Talone, told JE that he resigned on June 18 and leaves the BdP to “give freedom to a new minister” of Finance in choosing independent members

Appointed in 2017, João Talone, Francisco Louçã, Murteira Nabo and Luís Nazaré announced, in writing, that they wanted to give freedom to the new Minister of Finance to choose who he would like to consult with the Banco de Portugal (BdP) advisory body. Speaking to Jornal Económico, Talone, one of the members who was nominated by Mário Centeno, says that he resigned on June 18, three days after the inauguration of João Leão, to “give freedom” to the new ruler to choose new members.

"I thought that leaving the Minister of Finance, my obligation was to leave, giving the new Minister of Finance freedom to choose the new independent members of the advisory board of Banco de Portugal," he told JE João Talone, stressing that the four members of this body of the BdP "are the personal choice of the Minister of Finance, which is then proposed to the Council of Ministers that approves the names".

The advisory board gives its opinion, in a non-binding manner, on the annual activity report of Banco de Portugal, as well as its performance arising from the functions entrusted to it and on matters submitted to it by the governor or the board of directors .

After being nominated by Mário Centeno in 2017, the four members of the Banco de Portugal Advisory Council made the position available to the current Minister of Finance. João Talone, Francisco Louçã, Murteira Nabo and Luís Nazaré communicated to João Leão their intention to leave their positions, which they also made known to the BdP, with the purpose of giving space to the new minister to be able to choose people he trusted.

The first to inform that he intended to leave the Advisory Council was João Talone who wrote to the current Minister of Finance that, having been appointed by decision of the Council of Ministers, but at the recommendation of Mário Centeno, and as he left office , understood that the new minister should be given the opportunity to choose the names he considered suitable for the role. The resignation was filed on June 18, three days after João Leão was appointed finance minister.

Advisory board meetings have no minutes

Francisco Louça and João Talone both expressed, in writing, another concern about how the xonsultive council meetings take place, where, and although everything there can be debated, nothing is recorded, as no minutes are produced.

In turn, Luís Nazaré, who already this week notified João Leão that he was also making the place available to him, clarified what the purpose was: "To give the Government scope to make the appointments he wants, as they are his choice."

In addition, there is still talk of “potential conflict of interest”. With Mário Centeno on the way to the post of governor of the BdP, the fact that they were appointed by Centeno while serving as minister and nominee, may raise doubts. But Louçã, Talone and Nazaré are unanimous in guaranteeing that Centeno "maintained the necessary distance".

Former Finance Minister Mário Centeno also chose the names of the audit board whose mission is to assess the work of the governor of Banco de Portugal. The mission of this BdP supervisory body is to evaluate the work of the governor of Portugal, which may be Centeno. At issue may be a conflict of interest.

This council includes three members, all of whom are designated by Centeno: Nuno Fernandes as president, Óscar Figueiredo and Margarida Vieira de Abreu. If Mário Centeno is the next governor of Banco de Portugal, this audit board will control the work of its nominee, which may represent a conflict of interest.

As for the advisory board, the former finance minister appointed four elements: Francisco Louça, Luís Nazaré, Murteira Nabo and João Talone. A decision that can also represent a conflict of interest, although it is a structure without effective power, which meets only punctually.

Mário Centeno was heard this Wednesday, July 8, by the Budget and Finance Committee, at a mandatory hearing in the nomination process for the position of governor of BdP. Although only the PS was in favor of the nomination, Centeno said he felt “qualified, motivated and supported” to occupy the position of governor, rejecting the possibility of conflicts of interest.

At the hearing, in which he defended that there are no conflicts of interest between the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Portugal, and in which he saw seven of the eight parties present on the budget and finance committee showing their displeasure with his nomination for governor.

The hearing of the former Finance Minister is mandatory by law and there will even be a report with the evaluation of the deputies to the next leader of the banking supervisor, a document that will have the socialist deputy João Paulo Correia as rapporteur. Even so, Parliament has no binding power in relation to this nomination, despite the fact that all parties, except the PS, considered that Centeno does not have the conditions to be governor of Banco de Portugal.

PAN does not agree with Mário Centeno's transition to Banco de Portugal and has already moved forward with a proposed law to prevent finance ministers from automatically switching over to governors of Banco de Portugal. "Mário Centeno cannot go to Banco de Portugal because his direct leap from the Finance portfolio would politicize an institution that wants to be technical and its independence from political power", underlined André Silva.

Liberal Initiative moves ahead with precautionary measure to prevent appointment of Centeno

The Liberal Initiative will proceed with a precautionary measure to prevent the appointment of Mário Centeno as governor of Banco de Portugal, revealed João Cotrim de Figueiredo at the Centeno hearing.

"Given the dissatisfaction with the legislative process, we will take precautionary measures so that the appointment does not occur before the legislative process", he announced, justifying that he will proceed with the precautionary measure "as a citizen in defense of the people they elected".

Cotrim de Figueiredo did not explain the grounds in question for the precautionary measure, which needs to be accepted by the courts to take effect. The measure aims to suspend the appointment of Centeno, who, of the eight parties with a seat on the budget and finance committee, only receives the PS. Although there is no binding power of Parliament in this designation, it is up to the Government.

Remember too, IL had a diploma that wanted to prevent the parliamentary hearing on Centeno from taking place before there was a position in Parliament on the PAN bill, which aims to legislate a five-year disgusting period between the departure of the Ministry of Finance and joining Banco de Portugal. If this rule were in effect, it would prevent the appointment of Centeno.

The diploma will still be the subject of discussion in the specialty, but is currently awaiting the opinion of the European Central Bank.

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