SINGAPORE: Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam is among candidates shortlisted to succeed Christine Lagarde as International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief, the New York Times (NYT) reported on Wednesday (Jul 3).
Speculation over the IMF's top job has intensified since Ms Lagarde announced on Tuesday that she was temporarily relinquishing her role after she was nominated for the European Central Bank (ECB) presidency.
Mr Tharman is also Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, and advises the Prime Minister on economic policies.
READ: IMF forced into leadership search early by Christine Lagarde exit
According to the NYT, Singapore's former deputy prime minister, who was the chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, "has emerged on early shortlists".
Other names in the shortlist according to the NYT, include, Agustín Carstens, a former deputy managing director of the monetary fund; Mohamed El-Erian, the former chief executive of Pimco; and Mark Carney, the outgoing governor of the Bank of England.
The NYT report does not state the source of the information.
The nomination of Lagarde as ECB president has thrust the IMF into an early, unanticipated search for a new leader amid a raging trade war that has darkened the outlook for global growth.
Lagarde in a brief announcement said she was "honoured" by the nomination and would temporarily relinquish her duties as IMF managing director during the nomination period.
Her appointment is subject to approval by a fractious European Parliament. If approved, she will take over as ECB president from Mario Draghi on Oct 31.
The IMF chief's role has been traditionally taken by a European while the World Bank's top job has belonged to an American.
While large emerging market nations have long called for more representation in important financial bodies to reflect their increased weight in the global economy, the choice earlier this year of American David Malpass to lead the World Bank, the IMF's sister institution, showed the unwritten rule remains in place.
Lagarde's second five-year term as IMF managing director is not due to end until July 2021.
Last September, when asked by the Financial Times whether she was interested in the ECB job, she replied: "No, no, no no, no no."
In a statement, the IMF board said it accepted her decision to temporarily step aside and named IMF first deputy managing director David Lipton as the fund's acting chief, expressing its "full confidence" in the American economist.
The board statement provided no details about the search for a successor to lead the IMF.
Lagarde's departure would deprive the IMF of a tireless advocate for the benefits of trade, global growth that aids the poor and middle classes, and the empowerment of women.
She has spent much of this year warning about slowing global growth caused by the US-China tariff war, which the IMF estimates could cut global economic output by 0.5 per cent.