Tharman Shanmugaratnam to head IMF steering Committee

WASHINGTON – The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday named Singapore’s finance minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, to head its key policy-steering panel, the first Asian to head the advisory committee.

Members of the International Monetary and Financial Committee chose Mr Shanmugaratnam over South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to succeed Egypt’s former finance minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, as chairman of the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee.

The seat was left vacant last month by Youssef Boutros-Ghali, who stepped down after he lost his job as Egypt’s finance minister during a cabinet reshuffle by the country’s leader Hosni Mubarak under pressure from protesters.

The International Monetary and Financial Committee is in charge of deliberating on the main policy issues facing the IMF. The committee is comprised of 24 finance ministers or central bank governors from countries that reflect the makeup of the IMF, with the chairman taking a 25th seat.

‘Minister Tharman has accepted the IMFC’s chairmanship for a term of up to three years,’ the IMF said in a statement. He will have his first chance to speak as chairman of the IMFC during spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in mid-April.

Mr Shanmugaratnam was favoured by IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn as the global financial institution makes a push to get Asia on its side as the fastest growing region of the world.

Before Mr Boutros-Ghali, the IMFC post had always gone to a European finance minister except for a brief period when a Canadian held the job.