IMF Begins Consultation on 2009 Transparency Policy

25 February 2013

The International Monetary Fund has commenced a review of its 2009 transparency policy.

The IMF on Feb. 21 posted a call for comments along with eleven specific questions. The deadline is March 29. A conference call with representatives of civil society groups is being planned.

The most recent revision of the IMF transparency policy went into effect in March of 2010. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

As the introduction to the consultation notes, “the publication of IMF country documents—while voluntary—is presumed and the Fund now publishes about 90 percent of the country and policy documents presented to the Executive Board.”

That percentage has not changed since the adoption of the new policy, which did not change the voluntary publication policy, the announcement does not note. According to the July 16, 2012, version of an annual report the disclosure percentage was 91 percent. Brazil remains the only major hold-out. The 2012 list of the other countries that did not permit disclosure of the Article IV report and associated country documents discussed by the Board in 2011 is: Antigua and Barbuda, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Turkmenistan, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Libya, Myanmar and Oman.

The announcement goes on to say, “The volume of information in the Fund’s archives has increased significantly in recent years and the Fund has strengthened outreach efforts to explain its operations and views to the outside world.”

“Significant changes were made to the IMF’s Transparency Policy in 2009 under the overarching principle of making information available on a timely basis, unless strong and specific reasons argue against such disclosure,” the IMF says. It continues:

The 2013 Review will assess the implementation of the transparency policy since 2009. It will also examine the implications of recent changes in Fund surveillance policies on transparency, notably the 2011 Triennial Surveillance Review, which called for an increased focus on interconnectedness, strengthened risk assessments, more work on financial stability and a renewed emphasis on the external sector; and the Integrated Surveillance Decision, which will lead to increased spillover analysis in Article IVs. It will also examine ways to increase the amount, timeliness, and accessibility of information that is made available to the public, protect the integrity of IMF documents, and enhance the IMF’s accountability.

Questions for Consultation

The IMF questions begin by asking for opinions of the main strengths and weaknesses of the IMF’s transparency policy and suggestions for improvements.

Other questions seek to assess whether there has been improvement or deterioration in the Fund’s transparency policy over the past five years.

How the IMF’s transparency policy compares with that of other international financial institutions is also asked about. So too is whether documents are easy to find on www.imf.org. Another question is:  “What types of changes would you suggest to the content and style of IMF Board documents, Staff papers and Research papers to make them more useful to you?” Also, “Are documents sufficiently available in languages other than English?”

The IMF Civil Society Team will post a summary of the comments received by April 30, 2013. Senders can request for their comments to be private. Comments should be submitted via email to IMFConsultation@imf.org or by FAX to +1 202 623 6220

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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).
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