Transcripts

People's Republic of China Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the IMF

Japan and the IMF

Russian Federation and the IMF

Uganda and the IMF

The IMF and Good Governance -- A Factsheet

Heavily Indebted Poor Countries -- A Factsheet

IMF Quotas -- A Factsheet

Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) -- A Factsheet

IMF Surveillance -- A Factsheet

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Joint Press Conference
of
Philippe Maystadt, Chairman, Interim Committee
and
Michel Camdessus, Managing Director
International Monetary Fund

April 28, 1997, 6.30 p.m.
IMF Meeting Hall A, IMF Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

MR. ANJARIA: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of the press. I would like to welcome you to the joint press conference of the Chairman of the Interim Committee, Mr. Philippe Maystadt, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Foreign Trade of Belgium, and Mr. Michel Camdessus, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

May I ask the Chairman of the Interim Committee if he would like to begin with some introductory remarks?

MR. MAYSTADT: We can go rapidly through the communiqué. As you see, paragraphs 2 and 3 deal with this morning's discussion about the world economic outlook. Our discussion this morning concluded on a note of optimism and confidence. Economic and financial conditions are generally favorable in 1997 and the medium term. Fiscal discipline, price stability, and structural reforms remain the key principles at the heart of the economic policies in many countries.

As you can see in paragraph 3, the Interim Committee reaffirmed the members' willingness to implement the guidelines set out in its Declaration on Partnership for Sustainable Global Growth, the so-called 11 commandments that we approved at our last meeting.

The communiqué then deals [in paragraph 4] with the strengthening of Fund surveillance. As you know, the Executive Board of the Fund reported to the Committee on its review of the results of the ongoing efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of Fund surveillance over members' policies. The Committee welcomed the report of the Executive Board and, in particular, the Board's decision to permit the release, on a voluntary basis, of press information notices following the conclusion of Article IV consultations. These notices will consist of two parts: a factual background section, and an assessment that will correspond to the summing up of the Board's discussion. This new publication policy is an important step toward more transparency in Fund operations. I think this will improve market participants' perceptions about a country's prospects and policies. This should facilitate a more active public debate and contribute to the formulation and implementation of better policies.

Then, during lunch, we also discussed the Eleventh General Review of Quotas, paragraph 8 of the communiqué. We did not make much progress on this. We could agree on some general guidelines for further work by the Executive Board. We agree that the distribution should be predominantly equiproportional while contributing to a correction of the most important anomalies in the present quota distribution.

On the special onetime allocation of SDRs, we did not succeed in closing the gap. As you know, a majority of members can accept the Managing Director's proposal for an allocation of SDR 22.4 billion, thus putting all the members on an equal footing, by giving each of them a ratio of SDRs to quotas of 30 percent. This is a new proposal of the Managing Director, and very clearly a majority of members support this proposal. On the other hand, those countries that could not accept the Managing Director's proposal would be willing to accept an allocation of SDR 20 billion.

So you can see that the gap has narrowed considerably to the difference between SDR 20 billion and SDR 22.4 billion. My hope was that we could close the gap and reach an agreement on the size of this special allocation because, as you know, all the other issues are already settled. We have an agreement on the text of the amendment to the Articles of Agreement. We know how we will deal with countries with overdue obligations to the Fund. In fact, all the issues are settled except the size of the allocation. We must recognize that we were not able today to close the gap here, but we hope that in the coming months it will be possible to solve this last remaining issue. So we did not make significant progress on the quota review or on the special onetime allocation of SDRs.

However, I am happy that we could make progress and confirm agreement on another issue, the issue of capital account convertibility, paragraph 7 of the communiqué. You will recall that last September the Interim Committee asked the Executive Board to continue its analysis of capital flows and their implications and to examine possible changes in the Fund's Articles. Since then, the Executive Board has discussed these issues quite extensively.

In light of the Executive Board's report, the Interim Committee today has agreed on four main principles. First, the Fund has a central role to play in promoting the orderly liberalization of capital movements. Second, the Fund's Articles should be amended so as to give the Fund an explicit mandate and to extend the Fund's jurisdiction to capital movements. Third, this amendment should allow sufficient flexibility to transitional arrangements to ensure that liberalization is accompanied by the necessary structural and macroeconomic reforms. Fourth, members should be allowed in exceptional circumstances to impose temporary restrictions on both capital inflows and outflows. We fully agree on these four principles, and we have given a mandate to the Executive Board to continue its work on all the relevant issues, including the precise definition of the scope of the Fund's jurisdiction and its cooperation with other international organizations. We hope that the Board will be able to make specific recommendations on key elements of the amendment by the time of our next meeting in Hong Kong.

Finally, in paragraph 11, the Committee welcomed the action taken by the Executive Board to implement the Fund's participation in the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative. The Committee welcomed the recent decision on Uganda and also the endorsement of the guidelines on implementing the initiative for very open economies facing a heavy fiscal burden of external debt. You know the cases, among others, of Côte d'Ivoire and a few other countries. The Committee welcomed the decision taken by the Executive Board--the endorsement of these guidelines.

I am at the end of the communiqué. Of course, the Managing Director will add some comments before we try to answer your questions.

MR. CAMDESSUS: The Chairman has summarized perfectly what is in this communiqué. The only thing I would like to add, because I see it as of immense importance, as a matter of fact, is that what you have here under paragraph 7, dealing with the liberalization of capital accounts, is history. We have now the mandate to add to our Articles of Agreement the "unwritten" chapter in Bretton Woods. Our founding fathers, in the context of capital controls, had, at the end of the war, only the dream of bringing the world to a convertibility of the current account--and of taking the necessary time to accomplish that. Thus you have in our Articles of Agreement this complex architecture of Article XIV leading progressively to Article VIII, and stopping there. If anything, the Articles of Agreement expose a kind of sympathy for exchange controls in dealing with capital accounts.

What we are doing here is to reverse that and to add the chapter dealing with liberalization of capital accounts. This was conceivable only in the context of a globalized, much more integrated world economy. I really am happy for the Fund to have received not only this mandate but also recognition of the fact that the Fund is uniquely placed to promote this orderly liberalization of capital movements and to play a central role in helping the membership to progressively achieve this goal. You know that it took more than 50 years for something like 120 countries to go from Article XIV to Article VIII, with a dramatic acceleration of this movement during the last few years.

Now we start something else: bringing these countries, at a pace that the state of their economies and the strength of their financial institutions will allow, to the full-fledged liberalization of capital movements. It should be understood that we will certainly have a lot of work to do to define the modalities of the process leading to this full liberalization, but we have the unanimous support of the membership on the objective, as all our members recognize now that it is good for their countries and it is good for the world to go in that direction. So I call your attention to this very paragraph , which is indeed the "heavy" element of this communiqué.

QUESTION: I would like to ask either the Managing Director or the Chairman of the Committee to respond. Paragraph 2 states that the Committee agreed that exchange rates should reflect fundamentals and that the reemergence of large external imbalances should be avoided. Was there any concern within the Committee that these large external imbalances, particularly in Japan, are going to reemerge, given current exchange rates? I ask that, bearing in mind that, I believe, the IMF's World Economic Outlook projects that the Japanese current account surplus will rise to 2.0 percent of GDP in 1998 from 1.4 percent in 1996.

MR. CAMDESSUS: There were some words of caution about that, the concern being not so much the numbers for one year versus the numbers we expect for next year, but more about the possible evolution of exchange rates in the near future. We have at this stage a constellation of exchange rates that has served well the world economy, reducing the inflationary pressures in countries at an advanced phase of the cycle while contributing to a redistribution of demand in favor of the countries still at the low phase of the cycle. So far, so good. The orderly reversal of currencies that was suggested in April 1995, and endorsed by the Interim Committee, has done its job.

Now what is important in the period to come is to have the exchange rates continue to reflect the fundamentals and follow the cyclical developments toward a strengthening of the recovery in the countries of Europe and in Japan, which were in the depressed stage recently, while allowing the currencies of the others progressively to adapt to the new phase. The concern is what could occur if exchange rates were not to follow the cyclical developments. If you look at what the markets are telling us, you will see that the markets expect that the exchange rates will follow this cyclical movement, and that the risk of a new piling-up of trade surpluses in Japan should not materialize. So, even if words of caution were pronounced, there was not any kind of dramatic concern about its situation. Nevertheless, as it is said here in the paragraph dealing with the advanced economies, the wish of the Interim Committee is to see countries follow properly the policy recommendations consistent with their cyclical positions.

QUESTION: Mr. Camdessus, it says in the communiqué that globalization "may adversely affect some segments of society in the short run." In fact, Mr. Mussa said it even more alarmingly the other day when he said that globalization is bound to result, in the short term, in a number of losers--people who might lose their jobs or have their wages reduced. If there are enough losers in a country undergoing globalization, especially a country where there are some political uncertainties, that might affect the life of the government itself, or maybe the government will pull back from globalization. How can that be avoided?

MR. CAMDESSUS: The prescriptions of the Interim Committee have an objective that is not necessarily that of ensuring the survival of governments regardless of circumstances. Our prescriptions are to help governments to understand what is going on and to put themselves in a position to take the best possible advantage of the positive trends that globalization is creating in the world. Yes, it is true that in the very short term, in the globalization process as well as in all processes of adjustment in individual countries, you have negative effects. All adjustments are always a process of destructive creation. What is important is to have the governments conscious enough of what is taking place in order to concentrate their resources on protecting as much as possible the most vulnerable elements of society against these temporary negative developments without preventing the countries from gaining full advantage from something which is basically a positive-sum game.

QUESTION: I have a question about paragraph 11. The Interim Committee stressed "the importance of the provision of adequate interim financing by all creditors." I understand that, different from the Bank, the Fund is considering the use of ESAF loans instead of grants in the interim period. I wonder to what extent that is adequate financing compared to the contribution of the Bank and other creditors that you call upon.

The second question in this respect is: Could you tell us a little bit about the situation with respect to the resources needed to complete the funding of the Fund's participation, and to what extent you have managed to collect these funds at this moment?

MR. CAMDESSUS: You are right in putting your finger on this issue of interim financing. As you know, the Fund has decided to provide grants to play its role in the debt reduction itself, but during the intermediate phase our responsibility is to make sure that the country has all necessary flows of resources to face all the charges--financing imports, financing investment, paying debts that have been incurred, and so on. We will fulfill this responsibility under the best available conditions, namely, through ESAF programs, which have the merit of having almost no interest rate--as you know, 0.5 percent--and a very long grace period, which allows these countries to cross this intermediate phase without an added burden of interest.

On the financing itself for this initiative, we are not yet there. For the third time in ten years, I am going around the world paying visits, asking for money for the poor. It is a part of our job. We have done that again today, when I made a very urgent plea to the Ministers and Governors to contribute, and to contribute now, as we start committing resources for ESAF. But I also had the pleasure of telling them that 50 countries already had pledged a significant amount of resources. As a matter of fact, we have secured, more or less, half of the financing needed for this operation--this, before any consideration of "optimizing the use of our reserves," to use the cryptic language coined last September.

What particularly caught my attention is that, while you have a substantial contribution from the advanced economies in this group, you have also an extraordinary diversity of countries contributing, particularly poor developing countries that, having enjoyed the merits and the benefits of ESAF financing, now want to contribute to it to help countries that are at a less-advanced stage of recovery. I have given the Ministers a list of contributing countries, which includes the three Baltic countries, for instance, as well as India, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Croatia, Gabon, and Egypt. I will not recite the complete list, but on it you see the entire world--Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Mexico, and so on--participating in the financing of this facility, which gives me a reasonable assurance that we will find the proper financing.

I have, of course, made a very pressing call now for the Ministers to finalize their contributions, because, the earlier their contributions are in our coffers, the earlier they start producing interest and thus producing for us resources to give to these countries. I have also invited them to make grants instead of loans. I have heard several other pledges today, and I hope we will hear more before our next meeting in Hong Kong. Anyway, the Ministers and Governors know that in Hong Kong those who will not have participated will have very lively discussions with me.

QUESTION: Regarding paragraph 8, Mr. Maystadt, first, who will be the main beneficiaries of a correction of the most important anomalies in the present quota system? Second, what percentage will be equiproportional?

MR. MAYSTADT: I will first answer your second question. It was agreed that the proposal of the Managing Director to have two-thirds allocated on an equiproportional basis, could be seen as constituting a predominantly equiproportional distribution. But we recognize that there are other formulas that could be considered as predominantly equiproportional. It is clear that if 66 percent is predominantly equiproportional, a fortiori 75 percent is also predominantly equiproportional.

Now to your first question: which countries would benefit from the correction of the most important anomalies? I cannot give you a complete list, but you probably know that there is an agreement in the Executive Board that between five and ten countries should benefit from ad hoc increases in order to reduce the very large difference between their present quotas and their calculated quotas. You probably know that among the candidates are Germany, Japan, Austria, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Korea, and Singapore.

QUESTION: Turning to paragraph 7, where you talk about liberalizing capital movements, I note that the G-24 was quite cautious about this, and I wonder, first of all, if you could tell me if the transitional provisions that you talk about are a reflection of their caution. Second, could you give us an idea of exactly what kind of time scale you envisage for the transitional provisions?

MR. MAYSTADT: You are right; this mention of transitional arrangements reflects the concern of some members regarding the pace of liberalization of capital movements. If I can use the formula of one member, we should be bold in the objective, and very clear that the complete liberalization of capital movements is a specific purpose of the Fund, but at the same time we should be cautious in the implementation. All members recognize that there could be adverse effects if you go too fast to a complete liberalization without the necessary structural and macroeconomic reforms. We know that for some countries it will take more time to reach this common goal, but we all agree that there is a necessity to give a clear mandate to the Fund, and that is the reason why we asked the Executive Board to prepare the text of an amendment to the Articles.

MR. CAMDESSUS: With the permission of the Chairman, I would like to offer only one brief addendum. You should not have the impression that here you have a kind of North-South division looming on the horizon. It is very important to know that this concern for a prudent, progressive liberalization is universally admitted. All countries see the benefit of going in this direction. All countries know that to liberalize the capital account you need to have very strong macroeconomic fundamentals, and you need to have strong financial and banking sectors. If you do not have these, you must be moving in that direction.

The important point everybody has in mind is that, once you are engaged in this process, you should not open yourself to any kind of backpedaling. The movement should, preferably, except for accident, always be in the direction of more liberty. But to make sure that this materializes you must be prudent in the process. It is the intention of the staff, the management, and the Executive Board to help this prudent but decisive process. The Fund, indeed, is committed to extending technical assistance to its members to help this process and stands ready, if there are accidents, first, to allow countries to take temporary measures to protect their economies against unexpected shocks and, second, to extend the financing that could be needed during those periods when capital account liberalization exposes economies more to risks. But all of this is part of a kind of common wisdom. Now we will have to find the proper legal language to express it.

QUESTION: I was wondering, in your liberalization of capital accounts, what happens if there are massive movements of capital from one country to another? For instance, people put their money in the dollar or the mark or the yen because they are easily convertible. If all the currencies are convertible, will deposits not go from one country to another, depending on the highest rate of interest, and that sort of thing?

Second, as the author of the 11 commandments, may I ask Mr. Camdessus what are the commandments on good governance?

MR. CAMDESSUS: On the first point, it is true that in an open market you will have massive capital flows, but the experience of the world, particularly during these last five or six years, is that these massive capital flows have been a positive development, helping developing countries in their very rapid expansion. This trend will certainly continue. Normally, if all countries make major efforts in the areas of structural adjustment and macroeconomic prudence, interest rate differentials between countries will tend to disappear or to be reduced to very small levels, thus making much more comfortable, if I may say so, the life of the countries in more open systems.

Where is governance in the 11 commandments? It is a little bit in all places. You have first the admirable tenth commandment, which emphasizes promoting good governance in all aspects, including by ensuring the rule of law, improving the efficiency and accountability of the public sector, and tackling corruption, as essential elements of a framework within which economies can prosper. Then, among the elements of good governance, you also have ensuring the soundness of the banking system through prudential regulations, better assessment of credit risks, stringent capital requirements, actions to prevent money laundering, and improved management of banks. As you see, there is a full plate of things to do under good governance.

What I observe gradually emerging in the life of the Fund is a sort of second generation of structural adjustment programs that are less exclusively centered on macroeconomic corrections--monetary and fiscal policies, trade opening, and so on--but deeper, to attack the true obstacles to development at their roots. One of them is, for instance--as you will learn, if you discuss this with investors in developing countries--the problems of insecurity: insecurity of persons, goods, transactions. All this calls for sound and better judiciary systems, rules of law, and so on. And so we are back to the issues of governance.

MR. MAYSTADT: I would just add that these 11 commandments are not only words, but they are really implemented by the Fund. Michel Camdessus knows better than I do, but I have a knowledge of four cases in which the Fund very explicitly linked its assistance to the correction of major weaknesses regarding good governance. The Fund in some cases suspended its assistance as long as the government of the country concerned did not correct these major weaknesses.

QUESTION: I have a question for Mr. Camdessus regarding paragraph 4. In this, you say that the Interim Committee supports the Fund's increasing attention to banking and financial sector problems. In this context, it is my understanding that there is a report coming out sometime this week from a special working group of developing country and G-10 central bankers and finance ministers that will address the issue of how to improve banking supervision and securities market supervision in the emerging market countries. What is the relationship between this report and the IMF's increasing attention, in terms of both developing the report and then promoting it and getting countries to accept it?

MR. CAMDESSUS: It is very simple. As several institutions are active in this domain, it is important to clarify the mission of each of them. When you see the words "the Fund's increasing attention to banking and financial sector problems," I would ask you to remember my statement at the Annual Meetings last year, where I told you that, first, we were fed up with seeing so many good macroeconomic programs being derailed at an extremely high cost by banking problems. Second, because our analysis of the world banking situation demonstrated so clearly the weakness in banking systems around the world, I took the risk of saying that the next systemic crisis will be a banking crisis or closely related to a problem of banking weakness in a given part of the world. I maintain that these risks still exist.

This statement has contributed to a clearer consensus about the need to be strongly active in dealing with this problem. Several institutions are dealing with this problem. You have the group of regulators working in Basle to establish the rules for prudential management. You have the group of security and exchange commissions working together. The World Bank contributes to the financing of operations to promote financial reform through its structural adjustment loans. And you have the IMF. The role of the IMF here is very well defined. We have a responsibility for surveillance, and this concept of surveillance embraces very broadly the macroeconomic universe, including the monetary and financial sector, in all countries. Through our surveillance, we must make sure that there are not weaknesses in the financial sector that could lead to macroeconomic problems. Through our surveillance, we will be in a position to observe which central banks and which countries do not respect the sound prudential regulations established in Basle. So we will be able to play, very normally, a role in disseminating good, prudential banking practices.

We will, of course, stay in our universe, which is that of monitoring central bank institutions; only occasionally, in the framework of our programs, and in collaboration with the World Bank, will we join forces to help countries that want to improve their banking situation, by providing them with the appropriate financing. This is what we do, but it is only one part of a bigger job that will be distributed among these several institutions. The report that you will receive from the G-10 will explain it to you in much greater detail.

QUESTION: I have a question on paragraph 6, in which the Committee welcomes the establishment of EMU. In future, what will be the relationship between the European Central Bank and EMU? Maybe next year the Central Bank will be established in Frankfurt. Membership in the IMF is a national membership. Also, in the second sentence of the paragraph, you say that the Executive Board will undertake a broad program to assess the implication of EMU. Has the Board also a program for next year, when great disturbances will come from turbulence in the exchange markets, when EMU starts? There will be disequilibria among the foreign exchange markets in the world. Have you considered all these scenarios in the Board?

MR. MAYSTADT: Of course, we did not discuss all the issues raised because, precisely, we asked the Executive Board to undertake a program to assess the implications of EMU. We did not discuss the substance of the matter today. But, as you know, some weeks ago the IMF sponsored an EMU conference. This conference was the start of a process of reflection that has to be pursued by both sides, namely, the IMF staff and the European institutions. We have to find the best way to ensure a good relationship between the IMF and the EMU, it being well understood that individual member states will remain members of the Fund, with all the rights and obligations of all members. We will have to take into account this new reality; that there will be a new currency and a new central bank that will be responsible for the monetary policy of the EMU. We will try to find the best way to ensure a correct representation of the EMU, and especially of the European Central Bank, in its relations with the IMF. For example, the Article IV consultations will go on with each individual member state, but at the same time we will have to take into account the fact that there will be only one monetary policy for some member states.

I cannot prejudge what will be the result of this assessment that we have asked of the Executive Board. I am sure that the Board will find a way to combine the fact that member states will remain as members of the Fund, with some form of representation of the European Central Bank.

MR. CAMDESSUS: On the second aspect of your question, about the disruptions that the starting of the euro could create, you can imagine scenarios of turbulence. However, this is not the baseline scenario of the membership of the IMF. If you refer to the first page of the communiqué, at the end of the first bullet under paragraph 2, you will see that there is quite a positive perception of what EMU could be. It says that "the Committee...agreed that continued efforts to meet the convergence criteria (which are necessary for the EMU to start) and to proceed with comprehensive structural reforms in factor and product markets are needed for both the longer-term prosperity of the participating countries and to ensure a successful EMU that would contribute to the stability of the international monetary system." You see that the success of the process of establishing EMU is conducive to the stability of the international monetary system. This is the scenario that seems the most credible at this stage, but what is certain is that we will be vigilant and that IMF surveillance will be particularly attentive during this phase--which will certainly be delicate--leading to the successful opening of the European Central Bank.

QUESTION: Going back to governance. Mr. Maystadt mentioned four cases where the Fund developed second-generation projects. I wondered if he could give us some more details about this. And I wanted to know more generally whether the IMF thinks that it implements too many programs that do not include good governance--for example, in Russia or maybe even in Latin American countries.

MR. CAMDESSUS: The Minister alluded to four cases where the staff of the Fund discovered cases of corruption or of misgovernance that had a macroeconomic impact. As you can imagine, the Fund, being a very small institution specializing in macroeconomic issues, can only perceive cases of corruption when they have a macroeconomic impact. There were four such cases. Naturally, as the program and the macroeconomic objective were put at risk, we required the government to take very strong steps, including firing civil servants and establishing a new administration of customs or taxes, to make sure that the program could work without being hampered by these kinds of episodes. The governments have cooperated with us, and the situation has been significantly improved in these four countries. But these are four cases among many others, and the World Bank could also tell you plenty of exciting stories along these lines.

Your second question was, Do we have two categories of programs--second- generation programs, concentrating on governance, and others in which we fix key macroeconomic variables in order to stabilize the economy progressively. I would not say this, but it is true that the business in which we are engaged in our member countries varies very much from country to country. Certain countries in which we have worked were truly at the bottom of the abyss. This was the case of Ghana at the beginning of the 1980s, and the case of Peru at the end of the 1980s. This was also the case of Russia when we started working there, and so on. The IMF, as an institution mandated to help a country improve its situation and start its recovery, cannot ask the country to do everything at once. We must first work on what we are primarily mandated to do. For instance, our mandate in Russia was to reestablish the basic monetary instruments and the fiscal equilibrium first, and then progressively in our dialogue with the government to explain that the preservation of the gains in the macroeconomy required sustainable improvement in many other fields. And then we move further, giving more importance to governance issues. There is not so much a choice of doing this or that, but in the history of the adjustment process and our constant dialogue with the interested country, the emphasis shifts.

QUESTION: A question for Mr. Camdessus. Does it make sense to you that certain countries, like Mozambique and many African countries, will have to wait until the beginning of the next century to have access to the HIPC initiative while the burden of their debt increases? Do you expect more flexibility to be added to HIPC, as in the case of Uganda, in the next few months in the meetings of the IMF?

MR. CAMDESSUS: I must tell you that the membership has established very precise rules for the implementation of the HIPC initiative and has pledged relatively limited financing to implement it. It has been extremely difficult to arrive at a consensus on these criteria, these guidelines, as well as to agree on a list of countries that could be eligible for HIPC at a certain stage under certain conditions. Now, the rules are there. In particular, a country must have completely established a track record of good policies under a first ESAF program in the IMF and have started a second one. Indeed, learning more about the nature of the problem and the issues of debt sustainability through a country-by-country analysis, we have over these last few weeks arrived at an agreement--which was very difficult to establish--for adding a few elements of flexibility, if I can put it this way, to our criteria. In particular, we have agreed to take into consideration the heavy burden of debt on the fiscal resources of those countries whose external trade is particularly open. This agreement will allow a group of countries--Guyana, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire--to be potentially eligible. After listening to the debate this afternoon in the Interim Committee, I do not foresee any further significant change in the HIPC criteria in the next few years.

Let me add something. To have the countries wait for three or four years to reach their completion point is not necessarily a catastrophe. Why? First, because once these countries are under these programs, they receive financing under extremely favorable conditions. They are helped to improve significantly their macroeconomic balances. They are truly helped to move to a higher growth path, as in Mozambique, which you have mentioned. Second, these countries will be, at the time of the completion point, in situations already significantly improved--mirroring in some ways developments in Uganda. Of course, one could dream about a system in which you forgive all the existing debt and you do not ask the country to apply adjustment programs, but then you should be prepared to grant a new forgiveness of debt ten years later. This is not, I must say, in the real world, the predominant philosophy of our membership.

[Edited transcript]


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