In June 2003, the IMF Executive Board is planning to reconsider whether to force the release of more, maybe all, Article IV reports, the country-specific assessments that guide IMF lending.
The IMF has edged slowly to this point and the IMF staff is continuing to study its disclosure policies. The Board, in a Sept. 27, 2002, statement said it would consider moving to a policy of "presumed publication" for Article IV reports in June, when it will again review certain elements of its policies. Also up for discussion will be translating the reports into languages besides English.
At present, Article IV reports can by voluntarily released by the government of the subject country, based on a policy adopted in June 1999. As measured in a "Progress Report on Publication of Country Documents" dated Sept. 23, 2002, roughly two-thirds of Article IV reports were released. The statistical signs point to a slow improvement in the percentage of Article IV reports, and related documents, being disclosed. The worst rates are for countries in the Middle East and Asia. More than 80 percent of governments now choose to allow the publication of Public Information Notices, that describe the outcome of Article IV consultations.
During its September 2002 policy review, the board decided not to expand its policy on Article IV reports. A Sept. 23, 2002, statement by IMF Managing Director Horst Kohler encouraged "strengthening the momentum generated by the positive peer demonstration effect that has persuaded the rising number of members to agree to voluntarily publish staff reports."
The Fund’s directors also will revisit its policy allowing "deletions" from Article IV reports, most of which, the staff reported, dealt with the banking sector. Kohler’s statement indicates that there was debate about deletions, with most saying the policy "working well," but some proposing to apply the policy "more flexibly." In June, Kohler’s statement also said, the board will consider a proposal to allow deletion of highly politically sensitive information from country staff reports.
The Public Information Notice on the IMF’s review: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pn/2002/pn02111.htm
The staff review:
By Toby McIntosh
Filed under: IFTI Watch