Ligi Raps Estonia’s Central Bank Picks for ECB Council Job

Estonian Finance Minister Juergen Ligi, who didn’t make the shortlist for the country’s new representative to the European Central Bank’s governing council, said the central bank’s selection criteria is flawed.

The job requires strong character over an academic degree, according to a letter Ligi sent to the bank, which was first published today by the Tallinn-based Delfi news portal, part of Ekspress Grupp AS. (EEG1T) Finance Ministry spokeswoman Katrin Reimann confirmed the contents of the published letter in an e-mail.

“A clear word on the right subject is a bigger deed for the central bank, while analysis, expertise, is only a prerequisite that is accomplished in positions that are two, three or four steps lower down,” Ligi wrote. “Oriental expertise, to be honest, is even lower.”

The central bank board on Sept. 6 shortlisted Ardo Hansson, the World Bank’s chief economist for China, and Andres Sutt, an adviser at the International Monetary Fund, to succeed Governor Andres Lipstok when he steps down next June. Hansson has a Ph.D. degree in economics from Harvard. Sutt has the equivalent of a master’s degree in economics from Estonia’s Tartu University.

Ligi, named Europe’s finance minister of the year in January by The Banker magazine, also said an academic degree doesn’t equal character and competency, which are critical for the job.

Frontrunners

The 52-year-old minister was considered one of the two frontrunners, according to economists including Raul Eamets, a professor of economics at Tartu University. Still, his political career and position as the deputy chairman of the ruling Reform Party were viewed as a risk by analysts. Estonia’s next central bank governor is expected to be chosen Oct. 11. The country joined the euro-sharing bloc on Jan. 1.

“If someone behind that table, which often is shared by ministers and central banks, should bring up the subject of China, he would only get friendly feedback the first time: the new one, let him learn,” Ligi wrote. “No-one wastes a Frankfurt ticket on Chinese expertise, it is available as a sub-topic in economic research reports.”

Estonia was rebuked by China after President Toomas Ilves and Defense Minister Mart Laar held meetings with the visiting Dalai Lama last month. The Chinese Embassy said the meetings were a serious violation of the basic principles of international relations, public broadcaster Eesti Rahvusringhaeaeling reported on Aug. 16, citing a statement from the embassy.

Agriculture Minister Helir-Valdor Seeder earlier this month had his visit to China canceled over the incident.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ott Ummelas in Tallinn at oummelas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz in Budapest at

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