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Yugoslavia May Sack National Bank Governor
Former World Bank Official Brands
Enemies on Bank's Board as 'Liars'

BELGRADE, May 14 (Reuters) - Yugoslav's government accused its rebellious National Bank governor Dragoslav Avramovic on Tuesday of spurning orders and hinted at dismissal for the man who became a hero for ending hyperinflation in the country. Finance Minister Jovan Zebic told the federal parliament, which alone has the right to sack the 78-year-old governor: "Government measures are not being implemented. He implements only those which he wants. That is no longer tenable."

Avramovic and the Socialist government, which he accused of corruption and incompetence, have been at loggerheads for weeks over a range of issues vital to Yugoslavia's economic revival. About 3,000 workers angered by their lack of jobs and unpaid wages demonstrated outside parliament in support of Avramovic when he arrived to defend his attempts to lift the economy out of its post-sanctions stagnation.

The former World Bank official, who has been predicting his sacking, lashed out at the government which he said "has still not decided whether to side with the West or with North Korea and Angola." He said its decision to defer renewal of its International Monetary Fund (IMF) membership until the end of the year was "suicidal" and branded political enemies on the bank's board as "liars... who cannot open their mouths without lying."

Opposition leaders appeared resigned to Avramovic's removal after Montenegrin Socialists who earlier supported his policies criticized his refusal to obey the government. Vuk Draskovic of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) told reporters: "If this were a legal state and not a cave, (the government) would have been under criminal investigation today."

The government blocked Avramovic's attempt to return to the IMF in May and gain access to gain hard currency loans for the economy. It also opposed his plans for widespread privatization. Instead it put pressure on him to print money and announced a watered-down privatisation plan of its own which will barely affect the state's grip on most of the economy.

Avramovic, a former World Bank veteran, became a public hero when he stopped the hyperinflation that swamped Yugoslavia under U.N. sanctions dead in its tracks in January 1994. But efforts to restart the economy since sanctions were suspended have foundered on lack of money. Most Yugoslav companies and banks are bankrupt and most of the country's industry has not turned a wheel for almost four years. Living standards have plummeted in what was once one of the most comfortable economies in the old communist bloc.

Avramavic traded on his popularity to try to force through policies which the government disliked but probably sealed his fate with open attacks on ministers during the IMF wrangle. On Monday, he told demonstrating workers in the capital that the Socialists and their allies had looted Y bank accounts. The decision to dispense with Avramovic's credibility withes are appointees of the Socialist Party or the openly marxist United Yugoslav Left (JUL) party. A dozen of the most important among them double up as ministers in the Serbian government.

Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the ultimate power broker in Yugoslavia, has not so far taken a public position on the dispute between Avramovic and the government. His dilemma is that without reforms on the lines that the internationally trusted Avramovic demands, Yugoslavia will be denied vital IMF credits or foreign investment. Opposition economist Miroljub Labus said: "Our future will be the printing of money and inflation."

Additional resources
Berserkistan, May 14 · 15,000 Demonstrate in Belgrade and Nis

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