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Monday, 4 May, 1998, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Bank of Thailand governor quits
Chaiyawat Wibulswadi answering to reporters questions
Chaiyawat Wibulswadi says he wants a new governor to make a fresh start
The governor of Thailand's central bank, Chaiyawat Wibulswadi, has resigned because of criticism of the handling of the Thai currency collapse last year.

His decision comes ahead of the publication of an official report into the financial crisis,.which is expected to blame senior bank and finance officials for the plunge of the currency, the baht, and the loss of billions of dollars in foreign reserves in defending its value.

At a news conference in Bangkok, Mr Chaiyawat said he would step aside to pave the way for a new governor to make a fresh start, without having, as he put it, the disadvantage of the past.

"The Governor has an important role as he is leader of the institution and he must receive confidence and support from various organisations unreservedly," Mr Chaiyawat said.

"But presently there are criticisms about the suitablilty of the governorship which has affected my performance and the operations of the Bank of Thailand overall.

Successor nominated on Wednesday

Chatu Mongol Sonakul, a former permanent secretary of the finance, is expected to be nominated as Mr Chaiyawat's successor at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Mr Chatu Mongol is known as a strong critic of the central bank and is reported to have close ties with Thailand's ruling Democrat Party.

The Thai baht halved in value as the economic crisis spread across Asia, reaching a low of 55 to the dollar earlier this year.

The BBC correspondent in Bangkok says that unable to cope with growing debt, many Thai companies and financial institutions are going bust. There are fears of widespread unemployment.

However, some observers have defended the central bank, saying the real blame should lie with the government for acting too slowly.

The financial difficulties had been predicted by the International Monetary Fund in January last year.

See also:

06 Jan 98 | Asia-Pacific
New low for Thai currency
11 Jan 98 | Asia-Pacific
Thais hand in foreign currency
24 Jan 98 | Asia-Pacific
IMF says Thailand rescue plan going well
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