The 10th Asian Forum of Insurance Regulators (AFIR) conference was hosted by the Insurance Board of Sri Lanka (IBSL) in Colombo on 27 and 28 July under the theme ‘Changing Landscape in Insurance Regulation’.

The event, which saw the participation of insurance regulators representing China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Japan, Philippines, India, Macau, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Maldives and Thailand, was also attended by the Secretary General of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) and representatives of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Access to Insurance Initiative (A2ii).

The Chief Guest at the event, State Minister of Finance Mahinda Samarasinghe in his speech stressed that regulators would not only have to ensure that government policy facilitates the efficient conduct of the insurance industry at present, but should also be tasked with advising the government on changes and/or shifts in policy to better mirror ground realities in the future.

IBSL Chairperson Indrani Sugathadasa, in her opening remarks, stated that the insurance industry remains one of the pillars of a financial sector of any country, as it has the ability to transfer risk and therefore facilitates trade and commerce and allows for the efficient allocating of resources in an economy.

The first day of the conference included presentations by various Asian regulators on developments in the insurance sector in their respective countries, the IAIS’s Global Insurance Capital Standards and panel discussions on the challenges in implementing new capital standards, catastrophic insurance, agriculture insurance, and tax-deferred annuities. The AFIR website, www.afirweb.org, which is intended to facilitate greater cooperation between regulators of the Asian region, was also launched.

The second day included a panel discussion on developing a proportionate framework for inclusive insurance, where eminent panellists from IAIS, ADB, A2ii, Insurance Commission of the Philippines and Lanka Micro Finance Practitioners Association of Sri Lanka Advisor Charitha Ratwatte spoke on the importance of recognising and developing this sector for economic stability and sustainability.

The conference concluded with very positive results where the Asian insurance regulators discussed the way forward for the 10-year-old AFIR, including a proposal to set up a permanent Secretariat in Beijing, China.

As such, the conference provided a necessary forum and lived up to its founding principles, in that it provided an opportunity for regulators from various countries to meet and learn from the experiences of each other.

In light of the rapid advances and changes occurring in the insurance sector worldwide it is encouraging to note, that the continuing success of the AFIR would aid in the dissemination of knowledge and experience across borders and thereby allow for regulators to help foster the growth of an important financial sector in a rapidly advancing continent.