Tharman to chair G-20 group to review global financial governance

Deputy Prime Minister Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam speaking at the opening of the Innovation Forum at the Matrix Building, Biopolis Street, on March 27, 2017.
Deputy Prime Minister Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam speaking at the opening of the Innovation Forum at the Matrix Building, Biopolis Street, on March 27, 2017. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has been appointed chairman of a newly convened international group of top economists and leaders, which has been tasked to review issues related to global financial governance.

At the Group of 20 (G-20) finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Washington on Friday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble and Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann announced the formation of an Eminent Persons Group on global financial governance, to be chaired by Mr Tharman.

The Eminent Persons Group will be tasked with reviewing issues relating to global financial governance, in particular the work of international finance institutions.

These include the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and multilateral development banks such as the World Bank Group and regional development banks.

An outline of its planned work will be presented at the next meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors in October.

This is not Mr Tharman's first appointment to a top global role.

He succeeded Mr Jean-Claude Trichet as chairman of the prestigious global body of top financial experts known as the Group of Thirty in January, becoming the first Asian to chair the Washington-based private group, which is made up of leading economists and policymakers from across the world.

Mr Tharman was previously also appointed chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the key policy forum of the IMF, for an extended period of four years from 2011, and was also its first Asian chair.

Other prominent Singaporeans have previously been appointed to an Eminent Persons Group. Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh was appointed to represent Singapore in the Asean-China Eminent Persons Group in 2005, while former deputy prime minister S. Jayakumar was also part of the Asean Eminent Persons Group, formed in 2005 to create the Asean Charter.

CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun said Mr Tharman's previous experience at multilateral organisations stands him in good stead for this new appointment, which will likely involve dealing with thorny, complex multilateral governance issues involving a host of stakeholders. "Singapore is likely seen as a neutral party with a strong reputation for good corporate governance and upholding the rule of law," added Mr Song.

Mr Tharman is in Washington until today. The Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies was there to meet the heads of the World Bank and IMF, as well as top US officials and heads of other multilateral development institutions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 23, 2017, with the headline 'Tharman to chair G-20 group to review global financial governance'. Print Edition | Subscribe