Norway’s new Labour-led government this morning changed the brief for an expert group investigating aspects of the Government Pension Fund Global’s (GPFG) management – withdrawing the question of whether the NOK11.9trn (€1.2trn) sovereign wealth fund’s management should stay in the hands of Norges Bank, the central bank.
Minister of Finance Trygve Slagvold Vedum, the leader of the Centre Party which formed a governing coalition with the Labour Party after success in September’s election, said: “We must avoid creating uncertainty about the management of the fund.
“This is also about giving the proficient people at Norges Bank predictability in the important work they do on behalf of us all,” he said in today’s announcement from the Finance Ministry.
The expert committee chaired by Norwegian professor Ulf Sverdrup was appointed back in September by the previous administration under Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
It was tasked with considering “long-term perspectives” for the SWF – including assessing whether Norges Bank, which manages the fund via its Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) division, should remain as the organisation that runs the fund.
The government said this morning it had decided to change the mandate for the committee, and had withdrawn the mandate section asking the experts to “discuss whether the current model where the fund management organisation remains within Norges Bank would be the most suitable also going forwards or whether new challenges suggest a different model”.
Vedum said: “The question of the placement of the fund within Norges Bank stands apart from the rest of the committee’s mandate.
“The government emphasises that there should be stability in the management of the fund,” he said.
The ministry said the question of the placement of the fund had recently been thoroughly examined, and there was broad consensus in the Norwegian parliament (Stortinget) both in 2018 and 2019 that the management should remain within Norges Bank, adding that the new Central Bank Act has been in force since 2020.
The ministry said the rest of the group’s mandate remained unchanged.
The committee is set to submit its report by 1 October 2022, when it will be out for consultation and then form part of the basis for the further development of the management of the fund, according to the ministry.
Asked to comment on the announcement, Karin Thorburn, professor of finance at the NHH Norwegian School of Economics – who is on the expert panel – told IPE she understood it was common practice for new governments to go through and potentially revise the mandates for ongoing committees.
“The mandate for the committee on long-term perspectives for the GPFG is broad and the revision leaves most of the mandate unchanged,” she said.
Earlier this autumn, there had been heated debate in the press about including the matter of the SWF’s placement in the committee’s mandate, she said, because the issue had been reviewed, and a new central bank act enacted, only a few years ago.
“Hence, I don’t find the new government’s decision to let this issue rest controversial,” Thorburn said.