Sheikh Hamdan and Azucena María Arbeleche, Uruguay's Minister of Economy and Finance
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (R) presented the award to Azucena María Arbeleche (L) Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Azucena María Arbeleche, Uruguay's Minister of Economy and Finance, was given Best Minister Award during the two-day World Government Summit held at Expo 2020 Dubai on Wednesday.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, presented the award.

Arbeleche bested nine other government ministers from across the world shortlisted for the award. The Best Minister Award “commends the extraordinary work of government ministers at demonstrating excellence in the public sector; along with designing and implementing successful, scalable, and sustainable initiatives for socio-economic advancement of their citizens”.

It also celebrates efforts to inspire and lead other government leaders and service providers towards promoting innovation and foresight in shaping public discourse on global issues of today and tomorrow.

Turning around the economy

Arbeleche, 52, the first woman to lead the Ministry of Economy and Finance, was recognised for turning around the economy of her country amidst the pandemic. She was appointed to the post by Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou on March 1, 2020.

Arbeleche is a known advocate of Keynesian economics, a "demand-side" theory encouraging increased government expenditures to stimulate demand and revive the economy.

Forward thinking

Speaking to Gulf News after receiving the Best Minister Award, Arbeleche said governments should be forward thinking and not only deal with short term goals.

She added: “Discussing the future involves many issues. The times are challenging because of the pandemic and geo-political situations in the world. The most important thing for governments is not only to look at day-to-day activities but the future.”

“Every country has a particularity but every government must look at how to achieve sustainable growth and this would lead to better quality of lie and more freedom in our societies,” Arbeleche underlined.

Previous winners

The Best Minister Award, which was launched at the fourth edition of the World Government Summit back in 2016, has been awarded to four ministers from three continents in its previous editions.

Greg Hunt, Australia Minister of Environment, won the first edition of the award for his efforts in reducing carbon emissions in Australia.

Awa Marie Cole Seck, Senegal Minister of Health, was awarded Best Minister the following year for her pivotal role in tackling the spread of the Ebola and implementing an awareness program to confront the disease in her country.

In 2018, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance of Indonesia, won the award for her success in reducing poverty rates in Indonesia, narrowing the income gap, stimulating self-employment, and increasing job opportunities. She also orchestrated the increase in foreign cash reserves in Indonesia to $50 billion.

The 2019 Best Minister Award went to Fayrouzuddin Fayrouz, Minister of Health of Afghanistan, in recognition of his success in vaccinating 9.5 million children against polio, and the creation of a health database in Afghanistan. He was also recognised for launching Afghanistan’s National Health Strategy 2020 as well as reducing the mortality rate for children under five years old by 44 per cent, and the decrease in maternal mortality rate by 19 per cent.