PRAGUE, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok will be appointed to the Czech central bank board from March of next year, President Milos Zeman's spokesman said on Wednesday.
The naming of Rusnok, who has headed a caretaker cabinet since the collapse of a centre-right government in June, would be Zeman's first personnel change at the central bank, which is trying to steer the central European country out of a record-long recession.
With interest rates at near zero, policymakers decided in November to start intervening to weaken the crown currency for the first time in 11 years to fight the threat of deflation and boost the economy as it recovers from a six-quarter contraction that just ended this year.
The central bank's interventions against the crown have been criticised by the public and leading politicians, including Zeman, although Rusnok has said the move will help growth.
Rusnok, who served as a finance and industry minister in 2001-2003, including in a government led by Zeman, would replace board member Eva Zamrazilova, whose six-year term is ending.
'The president counts on the fact that Jiri Rusnok will become a member of the central bank governing board in March,' the president's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said, confirming a report in newspaper Hospodarske Noviny.
Rusnok had been an economic adviser to the president when he was tapped to lead the country following a spying and bribery scandal that brought down the last government. The move, though, angered the biggest parties in parliament and led to an early election after Rusnok's cabinet lost a confidence vote.
The leftist Social Democrats won the vote in October and are in the final stages of forming a coalition with centrist movement ANO and the Christian Democrats.
Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka has also criticised the central bank's move to weaken the crown, but it is the president who has sole authority in the appointment of the bank's 7-member board.
Rusnok has been one of the voices defending the bank as it tries to reflate an economy where inflation is running well below the 2 percent target. A weaker crown raises prices through higher import prices.
'I understand the stormy public reaction because the step is unorthodox,' Rusnok said on Nov 13, one week after the central bank's decision.
'I think that the step will benefit the economy in the short- and medium-term.'
(Reporting by Robert Muller and Jason Hovet; editing by Patrick Graham) Keywords: CZECH CBANK/PRESIDENT
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