Mr Tharman SHANMUGARATNAM, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam has been Senior Minister since May 2019, after serving for several years as Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Education Minister. He is currently also Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, and advises the Prime Minister on economic policies.

Concurrently, Tharman is Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). In addition to his responsibilities in the Government, he is Deputy Chairman of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and chairs its Investment Strategies Committee.

Tharman has spent his working life in public service. Besides serving as Deputy Prime Minister (2011-2019), he was Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies (2011-2015). He was also Minister for Finance for nine years (2007-2015) and Minister for Education for five years (2003-2008). He spent most of his earlier professional career at the MAS, Singapore’s central bank and financial regulator, where he later served as Chairman from 2011 onward.

He has been committed for several years to building inclusive social policies and improving jobs and pay for lower-income Singaporeans. He introduced major educational reforms while serving as Education Minister, aimed at achieving a broader and more flexible system of meritocracy. He later led the ‘SkillsFuture’ programme, which was launched in 2014 to enable life-long learning and upskilling among Singaporeans. He also chaired the tripartite Council for Skills, Innovation and Productivity (CSIP), set up to drive and integrate national efforts to transform industry and skills, and was the precursor to the Future Economy Council. During the pandemic years, he chaired the National Jobs Council, which oversaw efforts to support and rebuild jobs for Singaporeans in the wake of COVID-19.

Tharman has also chaired the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute since 2002. In 2017, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) conferred on him the Medal of Honour, its highest award, citing his varied contributions to the labour movement including “driving national initiatives to better the lives of workers".

Tharman has led several international councils, focused especially on economic and financial reforms. He was Chair of the Group of Thirty, an independent global council of economic and financial leaders from the public and private sectors, over 2017-2022 - where he took over from Jean-Claude Trichet, and was recently succeeded by Mark Carney. He currently chairs the Board of Trustees of the Group.

He also currently co-chairs the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, whose first round of recommendations shaped discussions at the UN Water Conference in March 2023 (the first since 1977). He served recently on the High-Level Advisory Board established by the UN Secretary-General to make recommendations on multilateral reforms for the UN’s 2024 Summit of the Future.

Tharman co-chaired the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Global Financing for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, together with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Lawrence Summers, in 2021. He also chaired the G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance, which in Oct 2018 proposed reforms for a more effective system of finance for development, sustainability, and financial stability. He was earlier selected by his international peers to chair the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) for an extended period of four years; he was its first Asian chair.

He has also been chairing the Advisory Board for the last three UN Human Development Reports - in 2019, 2020 and 2021/2022. In addition, he co-chairs the Global Education Forum, and is on the External Advisory Group to the IMF Managing Director, and the World Economic Forum’s Board of Trustees.

Locally, Tharman has also chaired the Economic Development Board’s International Advisory Council since 2014, and the International Academic Advisory Panel that advises the Government on strategies for the university sector since 2012.

He co-chaired the Singapore-Liaoning Economic and Trade Council from 2004 to 2008 and the High-Level Russia-Singapore Inter-Governmental Commission from 2011 to 2020.

Outside of his roles in government, he also chairs the Board of Trustees of the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), which seeks to uplift educational performance and social resilience in the Indian Singaporean community.

Other local and international awards conferred on Tharman over the years include Honorary Membership of the Singapore Medical Association in 2019, its highest award, and Honorary Fellowship of the Economic Society of Singapore in 2010. In 2019, Tharman received the Institute of International Finance’s inaugural Distinguished Leadership and Service Award (together with Mark Carney), citing his role as a leading proponent of global reforms to de-risk and grow development finance. He also received the Freedom of the City of London in 2019 in recognition of his contributions to global financial governance and strengthening ties between Singapore and London. He was earlier given the Finance Minister of the Year award by Euromoney magazine in 2013, which cited his role in Singapore’s economic restructuring and as the region’s statesman on the international stage.

Tharman was first elected Member of Parliament in Nov 2001 in Jurong GRC, and has been re-elected four times since.

Following his schooling in Singapore, he did a B.Sc. in Economics at the London School of Economics and an M.Phil. in Economics at the University of Cambridge. He later obtained a Master’s in Public Administration at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he was conferred the Lucius N Littauer Fellow award for outstanding performance and leadership potential.

Tharman is married to Jane Yumiko Ittogi, a lawyer by background and now actively engaged in social development initiatives. They have a daughter and three sons.

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