Dr. Tarisa Watanagase was appointed Governor of the Bank of Thailand in November 2006. Starting in 1975, her long career at the Bank has involved a number of responsibilities in all major functions of central banking including economic research, banking sector policy and supervision, payment systems, money market operations, reserve management, and monetary and financial policies. She has been a member of the Monetary Policy Committee and Financial Institution Policy Committee since 2001 and is now the chairperson in both committees.
One of her contributions to the Bank of Thailand was the modernization of the country’s payment system, which she spearheaded in the early 1990’s. A large-value fund transfer system with real-time-gross-settlement (RTGS) capability was put in place, a visionary initiative that eliminated payment and settlement risks, making Thailand’s RTGS system the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. Other electronic means of payment were also introduced to increase payment system efficiency by shifting away from paper-based instruments.
One month after the 1997 crisis, Dr. Tarisa was made the head of the Financial System Policy Department and was responsible for, and instrumental in, the formulation and implementation of the financial crisis’ resolution and financial sector and supervisory reforms. The Bank of Thailand’s supervisory capacity was also revamped, leading to significant upgrading. After normalcy was restored, she oversaw the establishment and implementation of the first Financial Sector Master Plan between 2003 and 2004. This led to orderly exits of non-bank finance companies and the consolidation of the banking sector. Dr. Tarisa’s achievements in reforming and supervising the financial sector have gained her, her recognition. She has used her expertise in participating as an invited external assessor in the assessment of banking supervision under the IMF and the World Bank’s Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP).
Dr. Tarisa received her B.A. and M.A. in Economics from Keio University, Japan and Ph.D. in Economics from Washington University, St.Louis, U.S.A. The macroeconometric model she constructed for her Ph.D. dissertation was one of only a handful existing in those days. Between 1988 and 1990, she was seconded to work as an economist at the IMF. In the spring of 1999, she attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University, U.S.A.
She is currently married with one daughter, enjoys yoga and water-color painting.