Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015
Meghnad Desai

Why Tharman should run for top IMF post

Published on Apr 23, 2014 6:00 PM
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (right) and Singapore's Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is also the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) chairman, arrive to begin a press briefing during the IMF and World Bank 2014 Annual Spring Meetings in Washington, on April 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CHRISTINE Lagarde is more than halfway through her tenure as the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She is the 11th consecutive European in the job. There is no shortage of talent as to who will succeed her in July 2016. This time, ample notice is required to prepare an open and transparent selection process. There must be no European monopoly.

I would like Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the Singapore Finance Minister, to be a candidate. He is thoughtful, technically competent and well respected - and he would hit the ground running.

The IMF needs a managing director with equal doses of technocratic and political skills.

When Mr Dominique Strauss- Kahn, the overly high-flying previous incumbent, departed in 2011 because of extra-curricular activities, a feeble attempt was made to open up the appointment to a global contest, but the outcome was a foregone conclusion. A Frenchwoman followed a Frenchman. A French politician with presidential ambitions (sadly thwarted) was followed by another French politician with similar ambitions (always denied, of course).

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!