IMF chief lauds women’s role in leading Bank Negara

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde (left) and Bank Negara governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus at a press conference in Sasana Kijang June 24,2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde (left) and Bank Negara governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus at a press conference in Sasana Kijang June 24,2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — Christine Lagarde has today commended the appointment and the work put in by Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus as Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) governor.

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) managing director highlighted how the fact plays into the importance of practising fiscal discipline while maintaining women empowerment.

“Many things have changed since I last visited the country, but one thing that is still the same, it is a woman who is governor of the central bank of Malaysia, so congratulations to you,” Lagarde said during a press conference this morning.

“We are very proud to celebrate your achievements and certainly from the monetary policy point of view, we believe that you have done exactly what was expected and required in terms of monetary stability for the country.”

Lagarde’s last visit to Malaysia was reported back in 2012, when Tan Sri Zeti Aziz was the then BNM governor, while still under Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional administration.

Lagarde today explained how the IMF had set a positive outlook for Malaysia going forward, following its 2019 Budget that she said showed more fiscal discipline. 

“We are pleased to see that the 2019 budget returns to fiscal discipline in order to make sure the country is rebuilding its buffers just incase there are rainy days to come,” she said.

She also mentioned how she would be visiting Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng later today, saying a meeting with the former would include recommendations on enshrining and embedding his policies on governance into the legal system.

“That is the best way to make sure it will survive the passing of time and the change of authority in the many decades to come.

“It is a legacy that is critically important and I am sure that Dr Mahathir will be pleased to see his legacy actually embedded in the legal system,” she said.

Lagarde, who is here on an official visit, also expressed how she was appreciative Dr Mahathir’s push towards women empowerment, besides the struggle for improved governance and to wipe out corruption.

“I am hoping that the Malaysian economy will be as successful, tasty, and rich as a bowl of laksa.

“[It would be better] with additional ingredients such as governance and the fight against corruption, higher and better education for all Malaysians, and the improvement of the role of women.

“Which I am pleased to see is also one of the rules that the prime minister Dr Mahathir is pursuing going forward,” Lagarde added.

Nor Shamsiah also weighed in on how Lagarde herself should be regarded as role model for younger women, with her multitude of achievements in policy making and financial management while making sure the IMF are not sidelining the emerging economies.

“I should highlight that Madam Lagarde has been diligently advocating for women’s empowerment and leadership in the global arena; being the first woman to hold the post of finance and economic minister of France and also the first woman to hold the IMF’s managing director position.

“We all can agree that Madam Lagarde has set a very high bar for all women to emulate and we thank her for that,” said Nor Shamsiah.