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India Remains Non-Committal on IMF Job

Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee greets his French counterpart Christine Lagarde in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee greets his French counterpart Christine Lagarde in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, June 7, 2011
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Anjana Pasricha

India remains non-committal on supporting French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde for the top job at the International Monetary Fund.  Lagarde visited the Indian capital during a campaign to counter opposition from emerging nations to the seven-decade convention of having a European IMF leader.

After meeting French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde in New Delhi, Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee extended no assurances about India’s support for her candidacy.

Mukherjee reiterated that India wants the job to go to the best candidate.

“We want selection of the managing director of IMF or that of the World Bank should be on the basis of merit, competence in a transparent manner, not according to any particular nationality,” said Mukherjee.

Lagarde’s visit to India is part of a tour to gather support for her bid for the job, which fell vacant after IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on sexual assault charges. She is focusing on emerging nations, which have criticized the tradition of a European IMF head as obsolete. Lagarde came to New Delhi from Brazil, and next travels to China.  

After meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the finance minister and finance officials, Lagarde said she agreed with Indian officials the selection process should be open, transparent and merit-based.

“We also agreed on the fact that nationality, region of origin, should not either prejudice or privilege a particular candidate,” she said.

Lagarde said Indian officials had “positive views” on her credentials. She said many countries will decide whom to back only after the last date for applying for the job closes on June 10.

Indian officials did not say whether emerging countries will name their own candidate for the IMF job. Finance Minister Mukherjee said “there is a divergence of views in respect of different candidates,” indicating there is no consensus.

Developing economies have been lobbying for a greater role in the governance of financial institutions, pointing to their growing role in the global economy.

Lagarde promised to support more representation for countries like India, China and Brazil, saying emerging nations need more focus at the IMF.

“I think that process is an ongoing process," she said. "There has to be a constant review of the relationship between the size of the economy, its contribution to world GDP, and its population has to be clearly taken into account, and its voice and quota at the IMF.”

Another candidate for the job, Mexico Central Bank Governor Agustin Carstens, also is expected to visit India this week.

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