The IMF and legislators
Parliamentarians at the Fund during the Spring Meetings
April 16, 2011
- Group of MPs from developing, emerging and developed countries attend workshop at IMF, during Spring Meetings 2011.
- "I am impressed and laud the accessibility of IMF staff to bring closer to parliamentarians complex technical issues. The presentations were brilliant in terms of content and very clear. Most MPs are not familiar with some of these financial issues, so this was extremely useful," says Alain Destexhe, Chairman of the Parliamentary Network.
On April 15, a group of parliamentarians gathered for a workshop at the IMF. This was the first time that an international delegation of MPs from developing, emerging, and developed countries interested in international development and finance attended a half-day workshop at the Fund designed specifically for them.
The objective of the workshop was to familiarize members of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank (PNoWB) with Fund policies and advice. Legislators, as the elected representatives of their citizens, have an important role to play in the economic decision process in their respective countries. This role extends from participating in the discussion leading up to budgetary processes, to the approval of laws that regulate economic activity more broadly.
The program started with a lunch hosted by Carlo Cottarelli, Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department at the Fund, who spoke to MPs about the importance of engaging with lawmakers, and presented the latest findings from the Fiscal Monitor Report. Vasuki Shastry, the IMF's Chief of Public Affairs was also present during the lunch.
Following the lunch, MPs attended a presentation by Lorenzo Giorgianni (SPR) about the IMF's response to the financial crisis. An interactive discussion followed with MPs asking questions about the role of the IMF, quota, governance, where Fund resources came from, conditionality etc.
"Presentations were very educative, IMF has been a complex and distant institution in the past, but we appreciate getting the facts and interacting with staff, it makes some of these issues become more tangible to us," said Robert Corbin, a Member of Parliament from Guyana.
Jorg Decressin, from RES delivered a presentation about the World Economic Outlook. The discussion focused on the impact of the crisis on countries, the role of the IMF, and policy challenges going forward. MPs expressed concerns about the impact of high food and fuel prices on the nascent recovery in many developing countries. They also debated the political support possible in some countries in Europe for continued austerity when faced at the same time with high unemployment and low growth. Policymakers faced increased public pressure, also for a fairer burden-sharing between taxpayers and banks at the center of the crisis.
"The workshop has shown the benefit of a closer engagement of parliamentarians with the IMF," said Hugh Bailey, a Member of Parliament from the United Kingdom. "The information provided and interactive discussions will feed into our national debate and improve the quality of our discussion of complex economic and financial issues."
To conclude, Chairman Destexhe reflected on the experience: "Financial issues are somewhat new to us, and I am amazed about how the presenters made complex things seem very accessible. I would like to explore how we can better disseminate this knowledge through our network, and perhaps it would be with more frequent video conferences."
A similar, but larger program is now being considered for the upcoming Annual Meetings in September.