International Monetary and Financial Committee thanks DPM Tharman for leadership as chairmanship ends

WASHINGTON - Members of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) thanked Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Saturday for his leadership as his four years at the helm of the committee came to an end.

A communique released after a meeting of the policy-steering committee of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed deep appreciation for Mr Tharman’s “service and guidance as IMFC chairman during challenging times”.

He was also presented with a framed resolution of appreciation from the IMFC and a gavel he used while he was chairman.

The Singaporean minister became the first Asian to lead the IMFC when he was selected as chairman in 2011, at a time when much of the global economy was still reeling from the financial crisis. When his three-year term came to an end last year, the IMFC extended it for another year.

He is succeeded by the governor of the Bank of Mexico, Mr Agustin Carstens.

Reflecting on his time at the IMFC, Mr Tharman said that he had tried to create a culture that allowed big and small countries to speak with an equal voice.

“The legislative changes in quotas, voting shares and representation on the board are the formal changes in governance and laws, and are important for the IMF’s legitimacy. But the changes in culture of the institution are equally important,” he said.

“What I have really focused on is building up a culture where peers among ministers from around the world treat each other as equals. And we have some excellent peers in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and in the small European countries that do not hold large voting shares, who really bring serious thought to our discussions. So it’s now a more level field in our discussions, where it doesn’t matter how small your country is or what the income level of your country is, you are taken very seriously in the IMFC.”

He said the fact that the IMFC chose a Singaporean as its head was a testament to the country’s credibility.

“In fact, we were not even a member of the IMFC over the four years I was chairman.”

jeremyau@sph.com.sg