Hosted by the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu, the second annual South Pacific central banking research conference kicked off in Port Vila yesterday with a keynote address by Governor Simeon Athy.

Sponsored by Griffith University and the central banks of Vanuatu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, the premier regional conference is attended by central bankers from across the region as well as key stakeholders such as Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, and central banks of Australia and New Zealand. The stakeholders are participating as speakers, panelists and moderators.

“The two day conference brings together South Pacific central bank researchers to share with academics, policy makers, regulators, multilateral organisations, business leaders, civil society, from the South Pacific, Australasia and the wider Asia-Pacific region current research on the region and to explore vital links between research and policy relating to central banking issues, including financial and private sectors and economic growth and development” said Dr Parmendra Sharma, conference co-convenor.

Dr Sharma further noted that the conference and Griffith’s South Pacific Centre for Central Banking program, which he heads, is the only such event and program by an Australian institution for central banks in the region–key policy-making institutions.

“The capacity developing program aims to entrench rigour and evidence in economic policy making at the South Pacific central banks through research, training and policy outreach.”

The program objectives align with the renewed Australia’s “step-Up” and New Zealand’s “Pacific Reset” foreign policy strategies for the region.

In his keynote address, Governor Athy said that “the crux of the developing capacity program is building a strong research culture and environment within the central banks which will eventually become a key basis for policy-making in the region–no more “eye-balling”! I must pause and note that this is a great example of “research meeting policy” or research for real world end-users, for finding solutions to practical problems”.

Governor Athy noted that the mid-term goal of the program was “to raise the standard, culture and environment of research at our central banks to the level of the likes of Reserve Bank of Australia and RBNZ”. He invited the stakeholders to join the central banks in various ways including collaborative working papers; research training attachments; conference convening for regional and international engagement; and preparing for PhD via the post graduate diploma phase.

The conference ends on Thursday 14 November with a farewell dinner hosted by Reserve Bank of Vanuatu–the dinner keynote address will be by Professor Tony Makin of Griffith University.

Conference convenors are Dr Parmendra Sharma, Program Convenor, South Pacific Centre for Central Banking, Griffith University and Mr Peter Tari, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of Vanuatu.

More information about the conference can be found on the website.