News / Africa

International Monetary Fund Debates Internal Reforms, Global Economic Growth

Financial ministers and development activists are in Washington this week for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Among the topics of discussion are economic growth and the representation of developing countries on the IMF’s decision-making body, the executive board.

William Eagle

The 24-member board of the IMF approves billions of dollars in loans for countries hit by the global financial crisis.

A third of its seats are held by European countries, including small ones like Belgium and the Netherlands.

But that’s expected to end.

The IMF is committed to broadening the influence of the developing countries on the board, with Europe under pressure to give some of its seats to other countries.

Soren Ambrose is the development finance coordinator for ActionAid International.

International Monetary Fund Debates Internal Reforms, Global Economic Growth
International Monetary Fund Debates Internal Reforms, Global Economic Growth

He says originally, the executive board had only 20 members, and an agreement to keep the number at 24 has to be renewed every two years.  The US says it will not agree to a renewal unless the Europeans agree to change their representation on the board.

If a decision is not made by the end of October, the board could become smaller.

"If no action is taken," he says, "we would lose four seats on the board automatically, the four smallest in terms of voting power– India, Brazil and Argentina.  [They’re] all members of the G20, who have reasons to say they are important and need representation on the board.

"The fourth on the board belongs to 23 sub-Saharan African countries, and it would be unwise for the IMF to exclude African countries which have been taking out loans most consistently for last 30 years."

Reforms would likely favor middle-income countries like Turkey and the Philippines and not the poorest of the poor. That’s because, he says, votes on the IMF board are apportioned according to a country’s “relative weight” in the global economy.   In his view, the least developed countries of the world have a meager voice on the board and could even have that diluted by future reforms.  Middle income countries currently on the 24-member board include Thailand, Egypt, Iran and India.

Members of the media ask questions to International Monetary Fund's Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Members of the media ask questions to International Monetary Fund's Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

He says ActionAid would rather see voting weight based on a country’s population and on the support they’ve provided the IMF through repayments of loans.

"The reason we say [a revised board should]  take loans into account," he says, "is that for many years, the IMF survived on the  repayments being made by (developing) countries taking out loans. So if they were to get credit for all they’ve paid in like interest payments and so on,  that would increase their voice."

Also up for discussion are improvements in loans to the developing countries and the anticipated introduction of what’s being called a Global Stabilization Mechanism, which would make large amounts of money available on short notice to a number of countries at once in the case of a pending global economic collapse.

"It would be collective action backed by the board of the IMF," says Ambrose, "and, by doing many countries at once, try to restore confidence in the entire system. It means the IMF is not trying to [publicly] identify a country’s weaknesses, acting like a credit rating agency, but instead be a more systemic fixer of the entire global economy."

Participants are also expected to discuss ways of boosting growth.

Some countries are trying to boost growth by devaluing their currency, thus making their exports cheaper.  IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warns that a race to lower exchange rates could destabilize the world economy.

International Monetary Fund's Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warns against a race to devalue currencies
International Monetary Fund's Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warns against a race to devalue currencies

Participants will also discuss whether the international community should boost economic growth by continuing to spend tax payer funds to stimulate their economies and provide jobs, or whether they should promote private sector growth by cutting spending and paying off debt.

Ambrose says the decision will ultimately affect developing countries.

"They rely on demand coming from the richer countries for the products they export," he explains.

"If the [industrialized] economies are slowing down and there’s not as many people working and consuming, then they are not buying [from poorer countries] coffee, or the cotton for their clothing, and the prices for thea commodities go down. That’s what affects Africa, Latin America and Asia."

New ideas could emerge through some of the week’s lectures and panel discussions.  Among them are ways to jump-start job creation and a look at some of the challenges facing emerging market economies.

Ambrose says it’s not clear if any consensus will emerge from the meetings.  If not, he says, the debate on many of the issues, including reforms of the IMF governance board, will continue in November at the meeting of G20 in Seoul, South Korea.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs