IMF credit is extended to its members in both foreign exchange and SDRs. Credit extended in foreign exchange is financed from the quota resources made available to the IMF by members, and essentially involves a transfer of foreign exchange from creditor members to borrowing members. These transfers reduce the available quota resources from creditors and increase their positions with the IMF by the same amount. Members receive a market-related return on their creditor positions with the IMF.
When extending credit in SDRs, the IMF transfers reserve assets directly to borrowing members by drawing on the IMF's own holdings of SDRs in the General Resources Account. The SDRs are placed in the SDR accounts of borrowing members with the IMF; the member can either maintain or convert them into foreign exchange. The amount of SDRs available for these transactions is generally limited, because the IMF normally seeks to maintain part of its usable resources in the form of SDRs—its most liquid asset.
| By the same token, the repayment and servicing of IMF credit results in the receipt of both foreign exchange and SDRs from borrowing members. In this case, the SDRs received by the IMF are added to its holdings in the General Resources Account, while the foreign exchange is passed on to IMF creditor members, reducing their creditor positions with the IMF.
The members that participate in the financing of IMF transactions in foreign exchange are selected by the Executive Board. The selection is based on each member's financial capacity, and takes into account key macroeconomic and financial indicators (see box).
The amounts transferred and received by these members are managed to ensure that their creditor positions in the IMF remain broadly even in relation to their quota, the key measure of each member's rights and obligations in the IMF. This is achieved in the framework of an indicative quarterly plan for financial transactions.1
The accompanying table presents the outcome of the financial transactions plan for the quarterly period completed three months prior to publication.
Column 1 indicates the members that participated in the financing of IMF transactions.
Column 2 shows the IMF quota for each of these members, which is the absolute limit of each member's obligation to make resources available to the IMF for its financial transactions.
Column 3 shows for each participating member the available quota resources at the beginning of the quarterly period. The difference between the amounts in columns 2 and 3 reflect the past net contributions of each member to the financing of IMF transactions.
Column 4 indicates the amount of foreign exchange transferred during the quarter by each member to finance the extension of IMF credit 'purchases' (of other members' currencies)2 and other transfers such as interest on creditor positions and other payments to members, and administrative expenses incurred by the IMF at its headquarters and offices around the world. The bulk of administrative payments are made in U.S. dollars. Depending on the number and size of IMF transactions, not all creditor members may participate in transactions in any three-month period.
Column 5 presents data on the amount of foreign exchange repaid to each member, primarily as a result of the repayment of IMF credits by borrowing members. Interest on credit extended by the IMF (charges) is paid in SDRs not currencies. Some foreign exchange is nevertheless typically received in the General Resources Account from members that acquire the necessary SDRs from the IMF with which to pay interest on their outstanding IMF credit. In order to help move toward balanced creditor positions relative to quota (column 7), receipts are not channeled to members with a low ratio in column 7.
Column 6 shows the available quota resources at the end of the period for each member participating in the financing of IMF transactions. When combined with the IMF's SDR holdings (shown in the penultimate row of the table), these resources comprise the IMF's usable resources, a key element in the assessment of the institution's liquidity position.
Column 7 (a) shows members' cumulative contributions to the financing of IMF credit and other transfers and column 7(b) illustrates the guiding principle that these contributions should be broadly balanced in relation to quota. Members that are relative newcomers to the plan thus tend to have creditor positions that are lower than average.
1Until recently, the financial transactions plan was called the operational budget.
2See Article V, Operations and Transactions of the Fund, of the Articles of Agreement.