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International Monetary Fund Lessons learnt, lessons shared at IMF meeting

Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf stressed the importance of investment in infrastructure

(Keystone)

The Swiss finance minister, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, has said at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, that investing in infrastructure programmes is a key way to promote growth, but it must be made more attractive for private investors.

She said that the private sector played an important part in making “long-term financing” available, but that efficiency was the key to ensuring investment did add up to economic growth.

Widmer-Schlumpf’s words echoed those of the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, who urged nations with flagging economies to invest more in their infrastructure.

Reducing the public debt to GDP ratio was another point raised by Widmer-Schlumpf. Taking it down to a “safe level” was important in creating a buffer zone for countries, she said, and was a lesson learnt from the financial crisis.

Continued interest in apprenticeships

On the fringe of the annual meeting of the IMF, Switzerland and the United States announced they will sign a deal on working together on vocational training.

After meeting the US minister for work, Tom Perez, on Saturday, the Swiss education minister, Johann Schneider-Ammann said they would put pen to paper in the coming months.

The two were apparently in agreement that having people in work, especially young people, is important for the prosperity and social wellbeing of a country.

The dual training system in Switzerland, where teenagers follow either an academic path or train as an apprentice, has been of particular recent interest to the US.

At the International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training in Winterthur in September, the US Vice President’s wife, Jill Biden, visited a Swiss firm and praised the apprenticeship system.

Schneider-Ammann also stressed the role that private companies play in training young people, commenting that a number of Swiss firms with US arms had already successfully  introduced vocational training programmes.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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