Russia Urges IMF to Disclose Key Governance Proposal

24 March 2008


The major ongoing discussion within the International Monetary Fund about how to revamp its voting structure is nearing completion but without the release of key recommendations by the IMF staff.

While such opacity is typical for the IMF, freedominfo.org has learned that at least one country, Russia, has recommended that the staff paper be released.

The proposed disclosure, however, was not adopted, or even discussed, at a major Executive Board meeting held March 11, according to IMF officials.

The topic of the meeting was "Quota and Voice Reform – Key Elements of a Potential Package of Reforms" and concerned the complex voting formula used by the IMF.  Developing countries, in particular, have pushed for a larger voice in decision-making.  The staff proposals are described by some as a possible compromise but as unsatisfactory to others. The board is hoping to reach a conclusion on the controversial subject matter in several weeks, in time for approval at the annual IMF Spring Meeting April 11.
 
Some documents will eventually be released, an IMF official said, but not before a board decision is reached. One European diplomat argued that premature disclosure could upset a potential deal.
         
The disclosure of management recommendations on matters going to the IMF board, except by leak, would be virtually unprecedented at the IMF. Other international financial institutions, in varying degrees, do request public comment on broad policy matters, and sometimes circulate draft proposals as they are sent to their boards. The IMF does not have such a tradition. The release of proposals concurrent with their release to board members has been a request of transparency reformers.

The IMF web page on quota matters is: http://www.imf.org/external/index.htm

The Fund is also busy preparing its "work program," a major effort instituted by new Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn to "re-establish the Fund as a focused, lean, and responsive organization." His statement on an "interim" work program was made at a Dec. 14, 2007, Executive Board meeting.
         
At that time, he established five "working groups" on quota and voice reform, budget and human resources options, surveillance, key issues in low-income work, and "Delivering Capacity Building Efficiently." Also set up were 10 "task forces" on a range of topics such as: simplifying the review process, assessing subsidies and resources, and personnel processes. Neither the names of the leaders nor the members of these 15 groups have been disclosed, nor have their reports.

By Toby McIntosh

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ABOUT IFTI WATCH

In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
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