Adel al-Sharkas has been appointed as the new central bank governor of Jordan, replacing Ziad Fariz, the office of the prime minister said on Twitter on Wednesday.

The U.S.-educated Sharkas, who previously served as deputy governor, takes over after the end of Fariz's term, officials said.

Sharkas faces the challenge of maintaining stability of monetary policy anchored by the peg of the Jordanian dinar to the U.S. dollar and an accommodative monetary policy to help credit growth to spur the sluggish economy, economists say.

The country has been able to maintain comfortable levels of foreign reserves that stand around $17 billion or nearly nine months of imports.

Fariz, a former planning and finance minister and banker, has been widely credited since he took over as governor in 2012 with preserving the independence of the central bank during years of regional turmoil that hurt the country's economy.

The central bank had during the COVID-19 crisis extended a $1 billion lending programme to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on businesses and ease job cuts as the economy last year witnessed its worst contraction in decades.

(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli and Suleiman al Khalidi; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise) ((;))