Published Date: 14 November 2023

"Silver Jubilee of the IMF-Singapore Training Institute" - Opening Remarks by Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore, at 25th Anniversary Celebration of IMF-Singapore Regional Training Institute on 14 November 2023

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
I am delighted to join you today to commemorate the IMF-Singapore Training Institute’s Silver Jubilee.

Special thanks to Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva for a most illuminating and uplifting speech to start off today’s proceedings. I must commend you for all that you are doing in the world to make it a better place. I must salute Kristalina for all the wonderful work that she is doing personally and that the Fund is doing globally.

Special thanks to the Deputy Director-General of the Japan Ministry of Finance Kentaro Ogata-san, thank you for joining us. Special thanks also to my friend and colleague, National Bank of Cambodia Governor Chea Serey.

The IMF-STI was born amid crisis.

  • The idea of an IMF regional training centre was first broached in a discussion between then-IMF MD Michel Camdessus and then-MAS Chairman Richard Hu at the end of 1996 - just before the outbreak of the Asian Financial Crisis.
  • But notwithstanding the tumultuous macro environment, not to mention, widespread questions of the IMF’s role in Asia, the IMF, with the support of Japan and Singapore, launched the STI in 1998.
  • It was visionary thinking and bold action.

The IMF-STI has stayed relevant amid momentous global changes over the last 25 years.

  • The STI is today a premier regional hub for training and capacity development in macroeconomics, central banking, and financial stability.
  • To-date, the STI has trained over 21,000 officials from 37 countries in the Asia Pacific.
  • The STI has stayed relevant because it has continually refreshed course offerings beyond traditional macroeconomic topics, to cover new and emerging areas such as climate change, FinTech, and financial inclusion. And these are issues that are close to our hearts and to millions of people around the world.

The IMF-STI has been progressive in investing early in technology.

  • The STI worked closely with the Singapore government – even before the pandemic – to jointly invest in technology.
  • This allowed the STI to quickly pivot to delivering its programmes in a virtual format when borders closed.
  • STI is well-positioned to deliver its courses in a hybrid format to enhance the effectiveness of its training, combining online modules with in-person delivery in training centres and in the field.

Looking ahead, the STI will be operating in a more complex world in its next 25 years compared to the last. I will mention two key priorities.

First, the quest for an integrated approach to macroeconomic policy management will remain important, especially in Asia.

  • Helping its members secure monetary, fiscal, and financial stability remains the “North Star” objective of the IMF, and the STI.
  • And increasingly we cannot study these subjects in isolation; we need to take an integrated approach that combines monetary, fiscal, exchange rate, capital policies – macroprudential policies, macro-financial policies, in an integrated, coordinated fashion. This is critical.
  • I said “the quest” because we have not landed there yet, but the Fund has been a global leader in setting the pace, and I do hope we will arrive at a good understanding.
  • We need to reimagine macroeconomics, and macroeconomic policy management.
  • The quest for something that is integrated unified has not had a good history – I am reminded of Albert Einstein who first conceived of the special theory of relativity and general theory of relativity in a very short span of time, while he was still a very young man, and then he spent the next 30 years in the quest for a unified theory of the universe.
  • Unfortunately he didn’t succeed, but it goes to show the importance of trying to understand the inter-connections and the inter-relationships between disciplines, and even if you don’t arrive at a perfect mathematical formula, this is what we hope to see in macroeconomic policy – an integrated framework. Countries in this region need that, want that and are beginning to practise it.
  • We need to wield this combination of policy tools, because that is what is necessary to forestall risks on the horizon, and also what is necessary to react to shocks when they happen, and they will happen.
  • The IMF has made notable strides on this front, including the introduction of the Integrated Policy Framework (IPF), which we are great fans of.
  • I look forward to the STI helping to equip member countries with the capacity to apply the IPF consistently and effectively.
  • It will also serve in Asia as a platform for a two-way exchange of ideas because in Asia, practice has moved ahead of theory, and experimentation has moved ahead of concepts. We have the unique opportunity to look at actual data, actual experience and practice, the mistakes and the successes, and form a conceptual framework that can guide more countries.

Second, long-brewing structural fragilities in the global system will manifest, reinforcing one another and unleashing powerful macroeconomic effects.

  • Let me list a few of these fragilities:
    • geoeconomic fragmentation;
    • climate change and nature loss; and
    • technological disruption, especially with the advent of Artificial Intelligence.
  • These are three key issues that will preoccupy us policymakers, practitioners, and people all over the world in the next 10, 20, 30 years.
  • These are multi-faceted issues that require mobilising and harnessing cross-disciplinary knowledge and expertise. They are no longer only in the realm of macroeconomic policy.
    • Take for instance, geo-economic fragmentation and supply chain resilience.
    • These are topics that will require bottom-up, firm-level analysis to understand how trade corridors are changing, how corporate practices are responding. This needs to complement our traditional top-down, macro-analysis. The Fund has made good strides in this area and we can all learn from it.
  • The multi-faceted nature of emerging economic challenges underscores the importance of the STI deepening its collaboration with partners – both traditional partners, which you do very well, and unconventional partners which five years ago you would not have thought of collaborating with - to enrich the quality of its offerings. And STI is well-placed to do this.

The journey ahead for the IMF-STI promises to be interesting and challenging.

  • But I have every confidence that the STI will grow from strength to strength, continually re-inventing itself to remain relevant and impactful.
  • And the MAS looks forward to being a firm and fast partner to the STI as it continues on its journey.