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South African Reserve Bank
 
 
     
 
 

Dr Theunis Willem de Jongh 

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TERM SERVED IN OFFICE: 1 July 1967 – 31 December 1980
 
On 1 January 1946 Dr De Jongh joined the Reserve Bank and became the founder of monetary statistics in South Africa. He initially held the position of Statistician but later the position was renamed Head: Department of Economic Research and Statistics. He was also involved in the establishment and extension of the Bank’s Quarterly Bulletin. With effect from 1 July 1962 Dr De Jongh was promoted to Executive Assistant until his appointment as Governor of the Reserve Bank as from 1 July 1967. He served as Governor for 13.5 years until his retirement at the end of 1980.
 
During his term as Governor, Dr De Jongh faced various international monetary crises. The two-tier gold-marketing system, which was introduced in 1968, had important implications for South Africa as the world’s largest gold producer and caused considerable uncertainty regarding gold marketing. However, after considerable success with secret gold sales, including sales to monetary authorities, the South African negotiation team under the leadership of Dr De Jongh was able to conclude the so-called Gold Agreement with the International Monetary Fund in Rome in December 1969. This agreement gave the Reserve Bank more scope for marketing the country’s gold and dealt the final blow to the movement for the demonetisation of gold. In the 1970s, gold swap transactions were concluded with foreign institutions to reinforce South Africa’s reserves. These swaps demonstrated that gold still played an important role in the international monetary system.
 
From time to time adverse domestic monetary and economic conditions also demanded appropriate action from Dr De Jongh. The rising inflation rate, excessive credit extension by the banking sector together with balance of payments problems required careful formulation of monetary policy. The confidence crisis in the South African banking sector early in 1977 also presented a major challenge. The Reserve Bank’s handling of the problem soon restored domestic and international confidence in the South African banking system. Dr De Jongh attended the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements. He was also involved with the deliberations of the Group of Twenty on international monetary reform during the period 1972 – 74.
 
In 1948 Dr De Jongh was appointed as a member of an expert committee to co-ordinate the data available to compile the Union of South Africa’s national accounts. In the 1950’s he served as a member of the Union’s Statistical Council. During his term as Governor of the Reserve Bank he acted as Chairman of the National Finance Corporation and as a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council. He also acted as Alternate Governor (1967-72) and Governor (1972-80) for South Africa at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Agency. He was South Africa’s representative at the Bank for International Settlements during the period 1967-80. It was thanks to his initiative that the South African Reserve Bank became a member of the BIS in June 1971. At that stage the Reserve Bank was one of only five banks from outside Europe that were members of the BIS.
 
In the late 1940’s Dr De Jongh served as Honorary Secretary of the Economic Society of South Africa and served as President of the Institute of Bankers in South Africa in 1970 and again in 1975. In 1980 he served as Vice-President of the International Banker Association.
 
In 1978 Dr De Jongh was awarded a D.Com.(honoris causa) by his alma mater. In the early 1970’s he was elected a Fellow of the International Banker Association and was likewise honoured by the South African Institute of Bankers. 
 
 
 
     
 
 
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