It is my pleasure and a privilege for me to bring to you today my report as the Secretary for Finances which reflects my six years in office as an Executive Committee member. I am proud of this report which theoretically summarizes three years since the Cairo World Congress, but also summarizes the final product of six years of hard work and devotion to the WPA cause.
I could summarize the financial policy by showing you two figures, and show you how we started with only two months worth of assets in the Bank to pay Secretarial salaries, and how today we can comfortably say that we have a two year reserve. But what is important is to understand what we have created in order to be able to continue it in the future; we need to understand the mechanics and processes that have allowed this achievement. I have described most of the guidelines of our work in my report which is in your folder, so I will mention just two main EC internal procedures and one general one.
First, we must understand the wideness and scope of responsibility that lies on the secretary for Finances’ shoulders. He should and MUST be involved in ALL procedures concerning Meetings, Education, Publications, Sections - all of these activities have financial consequences. The joint meetings of our Finance Committee with most of the other Institutional committees helped all of us to improve our financial collaboration and understanding. This translates into the involvement of the SF who has to continuously monitor all contracts signed by any EC member which has financial implications.
Secondly, many of you may say, and have also expressed your concern in the general survey, that we have NOT spent enough money on WPA activities, and research. And I agree, this has not been our main priority over the last couple of years. It has been the view of the EC that we were not in a comfortable position to spend the minimal funds that we had acquired. Our goal was to be able to rely on at least a one year budget reserve in the Bank in order to IMMEDIATELY supply and be of support in eventual crisis situations. (That, I learned not from the Freudian Traumdeutung but from Joseph dreams interpretations in the Bible Genesis Chapter 40.)
I know, some of you will say, WPA is not and fundraising organization, we should not have to get money from the Bank. We must spend what we raise. I agree with you. But, only from now on: we are now in a stronger position without any serious financial pressures. Once we have settled what I would call as an Infant Psychiatrist “a secure attachment with the bank”, and I really feel HSBC is a good enough father, we can start to explore and invest in research, education and grants.
All the figures I have presented to you in my article in World Psychiatry, represent six years of activities. We have maintained WPA activities during these years and even enlarged some of them. We have transferred our Secretariat to become a permanent one in Geneva and consolidated our ties with Member societies.
Our financial situation is healthy, and the next Secretary for Finances will not find himself in a situation where he will have go to the bank and ask for loans to cover routine expenses. Nevertheless, all these achievements can evaporate in 3 years time if our policy will not be continued and maintained, therefore it is important- and I strongly urge that some continuity of our financial policy is of the utmost importance.
It has been my role for the last six years to be the "Bad Guy" – as we all know, not even the best Minister for Finance in any country is never the most popular person in the government!
The SF has to discuss every contract and every financial support . To control every expense and find the best investment. I would never been able to do it without the full trust and sincere support I got from my friends in the EC. I would never have been able to do it without the full support and backing I got from my two Presidents, Prof. Ahmed Okasha and Prof. Juan Mezzich, who believed in my devotion, integrity and transparency. This is my occasion to thank them for their support and to thank those among you who elected me six years ago to this position.
I wish to my successor to enjoy developing, creating and investing at least as I did for the last six years.