Statement made by Director General Martin Skancke, Asset Management Department, Royal Norwegian Ministry of Finance, at Roundtable on the Santiago principles for Sovereign Wealth Funds
Press Release No. 08/12
October 11, 2008
• We have been reminded these last weeks that building trust is important, particularly in times of financial market unrest. The International Working Group of Sovereign Wealth Funds has done exactly that — made a serious effort to build trust.
• The drafting process has been characterized by a sincere commitment on the part of investor countries, as well as a broad degree of involvement by recipient countries. Norway had the pleasure of making a small contribution, and hosted a drafting meeting in Oslo in June. We greatly appreciate the cooperation of the IWG member countries, and are very grateful for the efforts of the two co-chairmen and the chair of the drafting group.
• I think the GAPP document we have in front of us deserves a positive review, particularly when you take into account the limited time on hand, the technical complexity of the subject matter, and the very differing starting points of the various funds. This is a very heterogeneous group, including funds with very different political backgrounds, varying purpose and institutional arrangements, as well as differences in investment philosophy and age.
• I would also like to thank the IMF staff for providing the valuable support that made this GAPP document what it is today, and the governments of Singapore and Chile for their kind hospitality.
• Norway welcomes this document and supports the principles in it. It is a positive step forward to have the Santiago principles, and it will give financial markets and recipient countries a better feel for what kind of investors the various SWFs are. The SWFs signing up to GAPP are demonstrating their firm commitment that these funds are properly set up and only apply financial considerations in their investment decisions.
• We have stressed that transparency is more than disclosure of financial information. Transparency is also about clarity of purpose and about having a sound governance structure with a clear division of responsibilities. These are exactly the issues that the Santiago principles cover.
• Norway will make a formal public announcement endorsing the guidelines shortly.
• We are pleased that such a heterogeneous group has come together to produce and agree on a document of technical complexity in such a short time. But this should be seen as first step.
• We support the plans to establish a permanent standing group. In addition to providing a vehicle for reviewing the GAPP and making it a living and relevant document, it can also provide a useful forum for discussion between SWF and recipient countries. To Norway, it is important to maintain a multilateral approach and not create a closed SWF-club. In this respect, we would welcome continued support by the IMF as secretariat and facilitators for the standing group of SWFs.