Transcript of a Press Briefing by Masood Ahmed, Director of External Relations Department, IMF

September 7, 2006

Director of External Relations Department
International Monetary Fund
Washington DC
Thursday, September 7, 2006
View a Webcast of the press briefing

MR. AHMED: Good morning, I am Masood Ahmed. This is our regular press briefing. I will run through a few events before questions.

First, just to remind you that the Managing Director will be making a number of speeches between now and the Annual Meetings. He is going to make a speech on September the 8th in Calgary at the conference at Spruce Meadows. On September the 12th, he will be speaking in Vienna at an event hosted by the OPEC Secretariat. On September the 15th, he will have his traditional opening press conference for the Annual Meetings, and that will be obviously in Singapore. On the same day, he will be participating in a town hall event for civil society with Mr. Wolfowitz. On September the 17th, we have the IMFC meeting itself, and at the end of that in the afternoon, we will have the press conference for the IMFC. The following day, September the 18th, he is going to be giving a speech at the Bretton Woods Committee, and he will also be participating in the press conference for the Development Committee which meets on that day. Finally, on the 19th, he will be giving his speech in the opening plenary of the Annual Meetings themselves. So that is a set of events that may be of interest to you.

Let me also mention and just remind you that on September the 12th in Singapore, we are going to launch the Global Financial Stability Report with Jaime Caruana. That report will be followed on September the 14th, again in Singapore, where we will be launching the World Economic Outlook with Raghuram Rajan. So those are also two press conferences that you want to make note of.

In both cases, taking account of the comments that we got from you about the length of time between posting these reports and the press conferences on them, we will be putting them out on the Media Briefing Center earlier than traditional. In the case of the Global Financial Stability Report, it will go on the Media Briefing Center at 10:30 p.m. on September 10th, Washington time, and the WEO will go onto the Media Briefing Center at 9:00 p.m. on September 12th, Washington time. In both cases, we have tried to give you a bit more time, so people who need to look at it before the press conferences can do so.

Let me also just mention to you that John Lipsky, the First Deputy Managing Director, is currently in Asia, representing the IMF at the APEC Ministerial Meeting in Vietnam, and then on September 13th, he will participate in a meeting, a conference being organized by the International Financial Forum in Beijing; just additional things that may be of interest to you.

Finally, I remind you of the embargo time which remains, as always, 11:00 here, 1500 GMT.

Now let me turn to any questions that you might have. Please identify yourself for the record.

QUESTIONER: I was just wondering if you could preview the Managing Director's speech in Calgary. Is this a march-up to the meeting speech? Is there something in particular that he is focusing on here, or is it similar to what we heard at Brookings a couple days ago?

MR. AHMED: The Managing Director's speech at Calgary will certainly go over some of the Medium-Term Strategy and the agenda for Singapore that was laid out in the Brookings speech a couple of days ago. It will also go over some of the prospects of the global economy and energy markets.

QUESTIONER: Masood, how confident is the IMF of getting an agreement on quotas in Singapore?

The other quick follow-up is there seems to be some confusion as to how far the plan goes for a greater role in surveillance of currencies. Is that something that is going to be adopted or decided in Singapore, or is it something that is an on-going process? I mean a lot of that, we have already seen in many Article IVs. What exactly is going to be the discussion about that in Singapore?

MR. AHMED: I will take each of those. On quotas, we are very confident that the broad support that was manifested in the discussion in the Board, which resulted in the Executive Board then sending forward the resolution to Governors, will similarly come through when Governors look at it, and we are very hopeful that we will be able to get the kind of broad support that will ensure that quota and governance reform program is adopted.

On the question of surveillance that you have raised, it is more of an on-going work program. The important thing is there are a number of things that are underway, which I have talked about in previous conferences, and I can go over them if you want to. Where things are advancing enough that we think it is important to report to Ministers the progress that is being made on modernizing the surveillance function of the Fund, on focusing it more on the kinds of issues that countries are now facing, particularly in terms of financial markets and exchange rates, looking more at spillover effects and also some of the multilateral dimensions of it. We think an endorsement of this direction of the travel and the progress of the plans will be very helpful in the work going forward.

QUESTIONER: So you are seeking an endorsement in Singapore for this?

MR. AHMED: It is not a formal endorsement in the sense of a Board of Governors' resolution, but it is a program of work, a direction of travel, and we think that having that discussion in the IMFC and having Ministers review it and commit to political endorsement and support would help us take that agenda forward in the way in which we have been asked to do actually from the Medium-Term Strategy itself.

QUESTIONER: Just to follow up on the mechanics of this - the quota package - is the Board of Governors actually going to take a vote on that at the time of the plenary sessions? Is it something that will be revealed the last day of the meetings? How do you foresee that working out?

MR. AHMED: The way it is intended to work, and it is sort of laid out in the covering letter that was sent with the resolution, which is on our web site, the way it is intended to work is that we have already sent the draft resolution to Governors and asked for their vote on it with a closing time on September the 18th at 4:00 p.m. in Singapore. And so, the expectation is that by the end of September 18th, we will have the votes in. As I said earlier, we very much hope and expect that those votes will then demonstrate the support that will enable us to move forward on that program. So there won't be a need for, if you like, a vote in the plenary because that will already have taken place.

Do you have a follow-up on that?

QUESTIONER: How much of a vote do you need? I mean it is not 85 percent, is it? What is it?

MR. AHMED: We do need an 85 percent. The exact requirement is that 85 percent of the votes have to be in favor of that resolution. That is what we need, and that is what we hope and expect to get.

QUESTIONER: I know that you don't give any figures about the WEO, but can you confirm some newspapers said in the last days that the world gross would be 5.1 percent in 2006?

MR. AHMED: As you said, we don't give figures about the WEO. I can only say what the Managing Director said on Tuesday when he spoke to journalists, which is to say that we expect growth this year to be around 5 percent and we could even see a robust growth next year although the patterns of it are changing across the world, and that is far as I can go. I invite you to come to the WEO press conference.

Any other questions? No?

If not, thank you all very much. We look forward to seeing you in Singapore.

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