Griffith Business School is bringing together a group of senior South Pacific central bankers in an inaugural symposium that will explore the opportunities and challenges facing the region in the 21st Century.

The event, the first of its kind convened by an Australian tertiary institution, is being hosted in Brisbane by Griffith Business School and is a major step in enhancing the collaborative framework of engagement established by Griffith Asia Institute’s South Pacific Studies Group (SPSG) in 2012.

The symposium, to be held in Brisbane on June 10, will feature the Deputy Governors from the Reserve Bank of Fiji, the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu and the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, and a senior representative from the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Symposium Convenor Dr Pamendra Sharma, who in his capacity as head of SPSG has worked with central banks in the Pacific over the past four years, said the symposium was a critical step in enhancing the resources available to central banks to develop relevant financial sector and economic growth policies for the region.

Dr Sharma said intensive engagement and collaboration had already been undertaken by Griffith Business School in this field, particularly with the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF).

“We have four joint working papers with the RBF and we are planning to draft at least two with Reserve Bank of Vanuatu later this year,” said Dr Sharma. “Central Bank of Solomon Islands is also keen to collaborate with us and we have identified some topics of interest.”

The symposium will attract delegates from the Reserve Bank of Australia, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Representatives from major Australian banks also will be in attendance.

Dr Pamendra Sharma, Head of the Griffith Asia Institute's South Pacific Studies group

Dr Pamendra Sharma, Head of the Griffith Asia Institute’s South Pacific Studies group

“This is an area of importance, particularly in view of the 2016 Defence White Paper which encourages Australian engagement with the region to enhance regional economic and political stability,” said Dr Sharma.

“Part of the process is formally training regional central banks in research skills and to enhance professional development. In the case of RBF, we have been able to successfully apply for an Australia Awards Fellowship through DFAT.

“Through the Fellowship, we were able to bring six colleagues from RBF to Griffith University last year and were able to provide some formal training in research.

“A lack of resources is the biggest challenge confronting these central banks, so we are trying to enhance their experience, qualifications and skills.

“They would like their research departments to function at the level of the RBA. This research work is critical for policy formation and it becomes a credible basis for developing policy.”

Griffith Business School Pro Vice Chancellor David Grant said the symposium represented a significant opportunity to co-ordinate research and share experiences among key banking and finance representatives from the South Pacific region.

“It is an important initiative for the region. We are delighted to be able to host this signature event and to be part of something that leverages Griffith Business School’s highly regarded expertise in the government finance sector,” said Professor Grant.

The success of this inaugural symposium could lead to an expansion of the event in future years. Dr Sharma said he would like to see a two-day conference hosted annually to assist in the development of financial sector and economic growth policies across the South Pacific region.

The symposium is being held at the Ship Inn on Brisbane’s South Bank on June 10 from 10.30am.