9 Jan 2010

Bank chief reinstated

9:08 pm on 9 January 2010

A judge has ordered the reinstatement of the Governor of Argentina's central bank and blocked a plan by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to use currency reserves to pay public debt.

The court said an emergency decree issued by Mrs de Kirchner on Thursday dismissing Martin Redrado, should be suspended until Congress voted on it.

In an earlier decision, it ruled the government could not move $US6.6 billion from the central bank to a special fund.

Mr Redrado angered the president after he refused to transfer the reserves. He said he would wait for Congress to ratify the measure when its recess ended in March.

The BBC reports Argentina has $US13 billion in international debt that matures this year, and a gap in its budget of between $US2 - $7 billion.

Debt rulings

In two rulings on Friday, Judge Maria Jose Sarmiento thwarted the president's efforts to use foreign currency reserves to pay down the debt and her decision to sack Mr Redrado.

In her decree, Mrs Fernandez de Kirchner said Mr Redrado had "failed to fulfil the duties of a public servant", and urged prosecutors to take unspecified legal action.

But Judge Sarmiento agreed with opposition politicians and Mr Redrado's lawyers, who said the president did not have the authority.

Under the bank's charter, the government can dismiss a member of its board, but must have a recommendation from a special congressional committee.

After the rulings, Mr Redrado returned to his office in Buenos Aires, waving at television cameras.

But Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said the government would appeal, telling Radio 10 that the constitution clearly gave it the right to issue the emergency decrees concerning the bank.