Recent Developments in IMF-CSO Relations

All eyes were on Singapore in September for the 2006 IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings. The major development was the membership's endorsement of reform of IMF governance, a centerpiece of the IMF's Medium-Term Strategy. The reforms designed to realign voting rights at the Fund over the course of two years are meant to make the organization more relevant to its membership and better equipped to face the challenges of the globalized economy (see article).

From a civil society perspective, the Singapore Meetings were noteworthy for several reasons. The IMF and World Bank accredited the largest number of civil society organization (CSOs) representatives ever, and there was broad engagement in a process of consultation with Asian CSOs to prepare the civil society forum, in which many Fund and Bank staff participated along with CSOs from 60 countries. The Annual Meetings were also marked by a dispute over CSO access to the gathering—and, in certain instances, to Singapore. An article explains how the situation evolved and was resolved.

The August edition of the Newsletter published an article on how the resources freed up by the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) are being used in most African countries. This edition follows up with a summary of the use of MDRI resources in some of the other countries that have benefited from debt relief.

Many of the CSOs that have interacted with the Fund over the past five years know Simonetta Nardin, the most visible representative of the IMF's civil society outreach. As of November, Simonetta has moved on to new responsibilities in the IMF External Relations Department, involving communication strategy and other outreach activities. We are pleased to inform that Jenny Bisping, whom many already know, will continue to be a main point of contact for CSOs. To make sure no email gets lost, please continue to direct your correspondence to .

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Feature Article:

Reform at the IMF—why the Singapore decision matters

At the Singapore Annual Meetings, IMF members voted on a set of reforms that, over the course of two years, are meant to make the organization more relevant to its membership and better equipped to face the challenges of the globalized economy. The reforms aim at ensuring that changes in the world economy in recent years are reflected in the governance of the Fund. This is an issue that is at the heart of the Fund's credibility and legitimacy as an international organization.

The steps include an immediate increase of quota shares for four emerging-market countries (China, Mexico, South Korea, and Turkey); an agreement to review the formula that determines Fund quotas and voting rights by the 2007 Annual Meetings; and an agreement to protect the voice of low-income countries by guaranteeing that their basic votes will at least be doubled. There is a clear commitment to guarantee that all countries have a voice, regardless of their weight in the global economy. The package of reforms was approved by 92 percent of the membership. Steps will be taken in the coming discussions to address the concerns of the countries that voted against the reforms.

Quotas determine a country's financial commitment to the IMF and its voting power in the institution, and they play a role in determining access to IMF financing. The current quota formula takes into account various economic factors, including GDP, current account transactions, and official reserves. In recent years, there have been only gradual changes in IMF quotas, and a rebalancing is needed to bring the quota structure more into line with the current structure of the world economy.

The reforms approved in Singapore also include a proposed amendment of the Fund's Articles of Agreement to at least double basic votes. That action would, at a minimum, protect the existing voting share of low-income countries as a group. Each IMF member has 250 basic votes plus one additional vote for each SDR 100,000 of quota (an SDR is the Fund's "currency," roughly equivalent to US$1.49). The Fund will also work to strengthen the offices of the Executive Directors that represent those countries.

The next step of the reform phase is to agree on a simpler and more transparent quota formula, to be followed by a further round of quota increases for underrepresented economies. It was agreed that the reforms will be completed by the 2008 Annual Meetings, with a progress report presented at the Spring Meetings in April 2007 and with substantial agreement on the new quota formula to be reached by the 2007 Annual Meetings.

Members also agreed on the importance of ensuring that the selection of the Managing Director is open and transparent. As part of the reform package, the Executive Board will consider whether further steps—beyond those followed for the selection of Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato 2004—are needed to ensure a fully transparent selection process.

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Annual Meetings:

Report from the International Monetary and Financial Committee

The International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) communiqué, presented by IMFC Chairman Gordon Brown and IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato at a press conference on September 17 at the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings in Singapore, calls for quota reform and addressing risks to the world economy, especially from global imbalances. Brown also stressed that a successful outcome of the Doha round of global trade negotiations is critical to longer-term growth.

Brown said that the IMFC had met "at a time of opportunity, with world growth strong," but also at a "time of economic challenge," given downside risks from the possibility of a continued buildup of inflationary pressures, a slowdown in consumption in a number of countries, continuing high and volatile energy prices, and the spread of protectionism.

Brown warned against the danger of protectionism in particular, noting that the stalling of the Doha round is "the most worrying [development] for world growth in the long-term." The IMFC heard a report from Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the WTO, on the status of the talks, and Brown said the committee was united in expressing "its deep disappointment that the trade negotiations have been suspended." The committee thus called "for leadership from the major trading nations to work urgently toward an early resumption of the negotiations, and an ambitious, successful outcome by the end of the year, based on a commitment to a comprehensive package on agriculture, industrial products, and services."

As a result of the meeting, however, and based on what he had heard from various continents, Brown said he is "more optimistic now that there is a way forward, that there is a basis for a deal, that countries are now seized of both the importance of a deal and the urgency of achieving one…" He said that "the prospects of such a deal are enhanced by the pledges of more than 4 billion dollars a year that have been made by the richest countries to the developing world" in the context of Aid-for-Trade framework.

Describing discussion on a comprehensive two-year program of quota and voice reforms (also see feature article) submitted for the approval of the Board of Governors at the Annual Meetings, which the IMFC endorsed, Brown said this program would constitute the "biggest reform to the governance of the IMF for 16 years." Starting with initial quota increases for China, Korea, Mexico, and Turkey, it would "make significant progress in realigning quota shares with members' relative positions in the world economy." The result of the Board of Governor's vote on this issue was announced on September 18. Members representing 90.6 percent of the total voting power cast votes in favor of the Resolution. Votes of Governors exercising 85 percent of the total voting power were required for adoption.

Brown also welcomed the steps taken to strengthen crisis prevention through the new multilateral surveillance mechanism. He noted that a report on the first multilateral consultation would be submitted to the April 2007 Meeting of the IMF, along with suggestions on other issues to examine going forward, such as the issue of financial stability. A country-by-country analysis of the first and second round effects of oil and energy price increases would also be part of ongoing work.

On other issues, the IMFC communiqué also calls for:

  • Enhancing the effectiveness of the Fund's work in low-income countries by focusing on sustainable growth and macro-critical areas that support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In the context of progress on the Multilateral Debt Relief (MDRI ) and Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiatives, the IMFC also underscored the importance of helping countries avoid a new buildup of unsustainable debt by assessing the desirability of lending and borrowing decisions in relation to the debt sustainability framework. 
  • Further work on ways to enhance collaboration between the IMF and the World Bank, taking into account the work of an External Review Committee. 
  • Proposals for more predictable and stable sources of IMF income, reflecting on the recommendations of a Committee of Eminent Persons.

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Civil society forum at the Annual Meetings 

To prepare for the Singapore Annual Meetings, the IMF and the World Bank started working early on with a planning group of about 30 Asian nongovernmental organizations. The group met first in Singapore in March, then in Tokyo in June, working closely with Fund and Bank staff to prepare a series of events for the Civil Society Policy Forum . The largest number ever of civil society organizations (CSOs)—more than 500—applied for accreditation, and over 250 CSO representatives attended. The focus of activity in Singapore was the CSO Center, located in the lobby of the SUNTEC Centre, where the Annual Meetings were held. The Center provided meeting and work space for CSOs and was the major venue for the Civil Society Policy Forum. The forum's dialogues covered a wide range of low-income issues. The full list of dialogues is available at . As always, various Fund staff participated in the sessions. The highlight was the fourth annual CSO Townhall Meeting with the heads of the institutions, Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato, and World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz.

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CSO Townhall meeting

The Townhall (see webcast and transcript ; see also transcripts of previous Townhall meetings) took place against a background of tensions with the Singaporean authorities over the admission of accredited civil society representatives to the country to attend the Annual Meetings. The meeting was moderated by Paul O'Callaghan, the head of the Australian Council for International Development, whose member agencies are active in 120 developing countries.

De Rato thanked the attendees, and said that he wanted "once again to express our view that the work of the civil society organizations with us is essential for the quality of what we are supposed to deliver to the member countries, which in the case of the Fund, is macroeconomic and financial stability." He noted that the Fund's involvement and consultation with CSOs had become deeper, and took place all year long, not just on the occasion of the Annual and Spring Meetings. "We believe this is a very important tool to measure the efficiency and the quality of our work, but also is another step in the direction of good governance of a public international institution that delivers public goods."

Questions from CSOs included the Singapore ban on a number accredited CSOs; voice and representation for poor countries; corruption; the challenge of meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals in Africa; job creation; and conditionality on loan programs.

Other Meetings

  • Managing Director de Rato and World Bank President Wolfowitz made a surprise appearance at an introductory briefing for CSOs on September 14, and stated their concern that some accredited individuals were not being allowed entry into Singapore. Questions from CSOs ranged from the accreditation issue to other topics.
  • On September 14, Mark Plant, Senior Advisor in the IMF's Policy Development and Review Department (PDR), gave an overview of the recent work and papers on the role of the Fund in low-income countries (LICs). His presentation built on a speech that IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato delivered in late July.
  • On September 14, Wanda Tseng, Deputy Director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific Department (APD), reviewed recent performance of LICs in Asia and discussed how the Fund is trying to help the those countries accelerate their economic development. While the Asia and Pacific region is the most economically dynamic in the world, it is home to some of the poorest countries as well, she said. Helping these countries adjust to the new demands of globalization and accelerate the process of poverty reduction is an important priority for the Fund.
  • On September 15, Akira Ariyoshi, Director of the IMF's Tokyo-based Office in Asia and the Pacific (OAP), and Matthew Fisher, PDR Senior Advisor, participated in the 4th Regional Dialogue between the IMF and the International Confederation of Free Trade Union's Asian and Pacific Regional Organization (ICFTU-APRO). The Asian Development Bank was also represented. The meeting had two sessions, one on Labor Market Policies of the international financial institutions (IFI), and the second on Core Labor Standards. Two main issues discussed were how to minimize the short-term costs of reforms that are necessary for medium-term economic sustainability and growth, and how to ensure that growth is pursued as a path to poverty reduction and job creation.
  • In a September 16 meeting, Tseng presented the findings of a chapter of the IMF's Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Outlook on the causes of rising income inequality and social polarization, and discussed some possible policy implications. Explaining that the rising inequality and polarization in recent years came after an extended period in which emerging Asia experienced rapid growth and increased equality, she pointed out that the current trends are a matter of concern, because rising inequality makes it more difficult to reduce poverty. There is also evidence linking large income disparities to lower growth and higher macroeconomic volatility, and resistance to reforms and change.
  • A panel discussion on "The Future of IFI Policies in Asia," organized by ICFTU-APRO and Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung-Office for Regional Co-operation in Southeast Asia, took place on September 17, at the Singapore National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)-Centre. Wanda Tseng represented the IMF. Other speakers included Frank Schröder, Senior Economist, FES New York (moderator); Ruben Cortina, ICFTU-ORIT, Argentina; Martin Khor, Third World Network, Malaysia; Benu Schneider, Senior Officer, Financing for Development Office, UN-DESA; and Filomeno Sta. Ana III, Action for Economic Reforms, Philippines.

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CSO access in Singapore

The Singapore Annual Meetings were exceptional from a civil society perspective for many reasons. The IMF and World Bank accredited the largest number of representatives ever, and there was broad engagement in a process of consultation with Asian CSOs to prepare the civil society forum. But, of course, Singapore will be remembered for the controversy surrounding the government's banning of a number of CSOs' legitimately accredited representatives The institutions publicly asked the host government to allow all CSO participants to attend the Meetings. Both IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato and World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz urged that all CSOs be allowed to attend because, as they put it, it was critical for the institutions to have the voices of dissent present at the Meetings. The institutions were very disturbed that a number of CSO delegates were detained for questioning upon entering Singapore or, in some cases, deported. IMF and World Bank staff worked hard to resolve the issue.

When the Singaporean government decided to take most names off the list, it was recognized that this was a positive step, but many CSOs felt the action was too little, too late. The boycott that many CSOs had called for when the news of the bannings broke, stayed in place, and many CSO Forum events were cancelled. Many of the CSOs said they understood the difficulties that the Fund and Bank faced, and they said they appreciated the efforts of the IMF and World Bank management to ensure full participation by civil society groups. As de Rato said at a meeting with CSOs on September 14 and again the following day at the CSO Townhall Meeting, the Fund values its dialogue with civil society, including critical voices. There is a place for dissent at the Annual Meetings—and the IMF and World Bank made this point very clearly to the host government.
CSO reactions to the ban varied. Many of the Asian NGOs felt the Annual Meetings were still an important opportunity to engage with the Fund and the Bank. They decided to make the best of the situation and hold all their events as planned. Other groups did boycott the Forum—even though some acknowledged that the bannings were the Singapore government's decision. Still, more than 250 representatives picked up their badges, and even those who boycotted came to the CSO room and used the facilities that the Bank and Fund provided for them. Many interacted with IMF and Bank staff on an informal basis.

Another difficult issue was that the Singaporean government did not allow CSOs to demonstrate in the streets outside the conference center. The Fund and the Bank had discussed this at length with the Singaporean government in the months leading up to the Meetings. However, the government refused to change its laws to permit public protests outdoors. It only offered to create a space inside the conference center for registered protests. While the majority of CSOs did not like this solution, they accepted it and even used the space to stage stunts (see photos here).

Even though it is too early to say what the banning incident means for the Bretton Woods Institutions' relationship with CSOs going forward, it is clear is that the institutions need to make an extra effort to ensure that they can fully participate in the Annual Meetings—both by creating physical space at the Meetings and by ensuring that there are no obstacles to their attendance. What was confirmed (if there ever was a need) in Singapore is that the many voices of civil society need to be heard at the Annual and Spring Meetings.

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Debt Relief:

The use of resources freed up by MDRI relief–Part 2

In the August 2006 Civil Society Newsletter, we reported on how the money freed up by the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) is being used in most of the African recipient countries. In this edition, we follow up with a summary of the use of MDRI resources in some of the other countries that have benefited from debt relief.

Cambodia: Debt relief is not a major component of the country's foreign aid. Nonetheless, the Cambodian authorities warmly welcomed the MDRI resources from the Fund of about US$82 million. The resources were transferred to the government budget in 2006 and will be used to finance additional public spending on poverty reduction over a number of years beginning in 2007. The first project to be financed is a $33 million investment in small-scale rural irrigation, with initial 2007 expenditure of around $16 million. The authorities are committed to using the resources freed up by MDRI debt relief in a transparent manner and intend to show in budget documents that the direct use of these funds adds to overall poverty-reducing spending.

Guyana: Total debt relief provided under the MDRI (in addition to that already provided under the HIPC initiative) amount to US$ 235 million, of which US$45.6 million were provided by the IMF and US$189.4 million by the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA). Debt-service savings are estimated to be US$8.5 million (or about 1 percent of GDP per year) beginning in 2006. To accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the government's 2006 budget allocated the savings to expenditures on rehabilitation of drainage and irrigation infrastructure, farm to market roads (US$2.5 million), maintenance of education and health facilities (US$2 million), and acquisition of materials and supplies for education and health (US$4 million).

Honduras: As a result of the MDRI, public sector debt is projected to fall significantly, from 61 percent of GDP in 2005 to 40 percent at end-2006. Total MDRI debt relief amounted to US$1.4 billion, of which $155 million came from the IMF and $1.2 billion from IDA. The Honduran authorities have indicated that they will use the additional resources freed by debt relief to finance expanded social programs that contribute to meeting the MDGs. In particular, Fund MDRI debt relief would be allocated to eliminate annual fees charged for primary education, which is expected to increase enrollment from low-income families.

Mauritania: The total debt relief provided under the MDRI (in addition to that already provided under the HIPC initiative) amounted to US$753 million, or about 35 percent of the projected 2006 (nonoil) GDP. In July 2006, the authorities adopted a supplementary budget, which included the resources freed up by the MDRI in mid-year, and provided for an increase in spending on poverty reduction equivalent to about 1 percent of nonoil GDP. Investment expenditures account for most of the additional allocations, including targeted programs in support of the small-scale fishing industry, infrastructure investments in poverty-stricken areas, and construction of healthcare facilities. The poverty-reduction strategy for 2007–2010 targets a significant increase in spending for the poor and a reduction in the difference in poverty rates between the rural and the urban areas. The resources freed up by the MDRI, together with other funds that will be mobilized in support of this strategy—notably, the revenue from oil exports and concessional foreign financing—will be used to finance the physical and human capital investment needed to achieve these goals.

Nicaragua: Debt-service savings as a result of MDRI will be about 0.2 percent of GDP (US$12 million) per year beginning in 2006. To accelerate the achievement of the MDGs, the government's 2006 budget allocated the savings to spending on medicine and educational materials (60 percent of total), the water sector (25 percent), and on low-income housing (25 percent).

Tajikistan: Tajikistan received IMF debt relief under the MDRI in the amount of US$99 million, which is equivalent to about 3.8 percent of GDP. The authorities have included the equivalent of 0.5 percent of GDP in MDRI-freed resources in their draft 2007 budget. The MDRI funds will be used to finance higher transfers to the poor (including to compensate for a forthcoming adjustment in electricity tariffs), to support wage decompression in the public sector, and to augment non-wage spending in the education and health sectors. Public expenditure management systems are currently being strengthened to better account for the use of MDRI and other budgetary resources, including through improved reporting and oversight procedures.

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Letters from the Field:

Roundtable discussion with CSOs on Public Financial Management Reform
John G. Nelmes, IMF Resident Representative, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

As part of the Resident Representative's office's regular outreach activities, we held another of our ongoing IMF–NGO roundtable discussions on October 20, 2006, to exchange views with civil society organizations (CSOs). The meeting took place against the backdrop of CSOs' recent expression of interest in joining discussions organized by the Public Financial Management Reform's Technical Working Group. Participants included World Vision Cambodia, NGO Forum on Cambodia, ActionAid International, Economic Institute of Cambodia, MEDICAM, Womyns Agenda for Change, and NGO Education Partnership.

Opening the roundtable, I described the economic surveillance process (Article IV consultation), and encouraged CSOs to read the July 2006 Staff Report . I briefly described recent developments in the government's economic reform program that could be financially supported by the IMF through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), and gave an overview of the IMF technical assistance to Cambodia. I noted that in addition to staff visits, the IMF in recent years has provided a significant amount of technical assistance to Cambodia to support the government's public financial management reform program (PFMRP). Partly as a result, progress has been made in enhancing revenue administration, a key element of fiscal sustainability and a tool for poverty alleviation. Moreover, improving budget management has been supported by the newly established chart of accounts. Once fully implemented, this will help enhance effective and efficient use and reporting of public resources. Despite the gains, further revenue improvement remains an immediate challenge. Higher government revenue is necessary to finance much-needed increases in capital spending to improve the country's infrastructure and to raise social spending—including in particular on health and education—to strengthen Cambodia's human capacity and enable it to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Expressing their appreciation to the Fund for the meeting, CSO representatives explained that their interest in having a complementary role in monitoring public finances was prompted by a need to promote transparency and accountability. By joining the discussions, CSOs would be able to help assess the impact of social spending on such services as schools and health centers, as well as poverty as a whole. This would promote the effectiveness of the public financial management reform's measures. CSOs expressed a particular concern that a number of key social indicators had not improved as hoped, and pointed to the problem of corruption and governance concerns as a contributing factor. More often than not, they explained, social sector ministries and implementing agencies face leakages and red tape, resulting from the imposition of multiple and superfluous rules and regulations. These factors lead to a deterioration in the quality and availability of public services. Streamlining budget disbursement and expenditure control processes, and decentralizing control and responsibility to local authorities, supported by merit-based pay systems, would help to eliminate budget disbursement delays and improve budget managers' accountability.

I agreed that weak governance is a key challenge that needs to be addressed. Many of the issues mentioned have also been the focus of the Fund's policy advice in the context of PFMRP. The IMF will shortly provide technical assistance to the government to strengthen the identification and tracking of poverty-reducing expenditures. The aim is to strengthen budget accountability and improve the ability to analyze the impact of social spending on poverty reduction. However, the success of the reforms depends critically on the ownership and commitment of the government of Cambodia. As Development Partners' Alternate Lead Coordinator of the PFMRP's technical working group, I said the Fund welcomed the proposal by civil society to join the discussions. The request has already been forwarded by the Development Partner Committee to the government's Reform Secretariat Committee for consent.

Finally, I agreed to participate in any forums organized by CSOs, and to offer views on issues within the Fund's mandate. I also encouraged the participants to learn more about the Fund's activities and research papers by visiting its website, and its newly-established depository library located at the Cambodia Development Resource Institute.

IMF Resident Representative Office in Cambodia website

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Beyond the figures: Two IMF Resident Representatives' charitable outreach

Gaston Gelos, the IMF Resident Representative in Uruguay, visited a slum area in Montevideo on September 1, and was greeted warmly. Accompanied by representatives of the charity Un Techo para mi País (A Roof for My Country), Gelos toured the neighborhood and talked with residents about their living conditions and the challenges they face. Gelos's visit was prompted by the IMF Civic Program's US$6,000 contribution to the charity, which constructs basic housing for needy families in Montevideo's slums and elsewhere in Latin America. The September tour marked Gelos's first contact with Un Techo para mi País--as well as his first exposure to the impoverished areas of Uruguay's capital.

Media interest in Gelos's gesture was unexpectedly strong. The story ended up on television, on the front page of a major Uruguayan newspaper, and elsewhere in the local press. Many local people praised the effort. In a country where the Fund is still viewed with some skepticism, this is an encouraging development. For Gelos, the experience added an important dimension to his work in the country. "Resident Representatives should try to understand what's going on in the country at various levels," he said. "I want to stay in touch with this NGO and see how its initiatives are moving ahead."

In Nicaragua, IMF Resident Representative Humberto Arbulu-Neira had a similarly positive experience. Charged with delivering $1,100 from the IMF Civic Program to ACOEN-ITAE, a charity in southern Nicaragua, Arbulu-Neira found himself witnessing firsthand the poverty that the Fund is working to combat. ACOEN-ITAE provides training in basic skills such as sewing and cooking to women--often single mothers--with the aim of helping them gain financial independence. "It is amazing how much this organization is doing with so little money," he said.

He also visited the San Francisco de Assis Association, an organization that provides health services to low-income people in Managua, the country's capital. The association recently received a $6,000 grant from the IMF Civic Program. Arbulu-Neira and his wife were so impressed with this association's work that they have decided to continue to be involved in a personal capacity.

The Fund's philanthropic donations help to improve the Fund's image in these countries, both resident representatives say. But also important, said Arbulu-Neira, is the impact of this outreach on the Fund staffers themselves. "These programs bring out the human face of poverty," he said, "which is something we don't see when we look at figures."

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Bulletin Board

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Other recent meetings between the IMF and CSOs

  • On August 15, Andy Berg of the Policy Development and Review Department (PDR) participated in the panel discussion "Access to AIDS Resources: Making Macro-Economic Policies Work" at the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada. Panelists included Robert Greener of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); Leonard Okello of ActionAid International; John Kagimwi of the National AIDS Council in Kenya; and co-chairs Elhadj Sy of UNDP HIV/AIDS Group and Alan Whiteside of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Berg talked about the Fund's call for more aid and the effective use of external and internal resources to help respond to the AIDS/HIV epidemic while fostering sustainable growth.
  • Vitali Kramarenko of the Middle East and Central Asia Department (MCD) met with Heike Mainhardt-Gibbs and George Holliday of the Bank Information Center (BIC) on August 28, to discuss the BIC paper "Azerbaijan's Continued Struggle with Poverty and Oil Dependence: Concerns surrounding a Decade of IFI Lending." The paper examines lending by international financial institutions (IFI), examining whether they are in line with the goal of economic diversification in Azerbaijan.
  • On August 31, PDR's Hans Peter Lankes and Charleen Gust, and World Bank staff met with Emily Alpert of Oxfam America; Aldo Caliari of the Center of Concern; Viji Rangaswami of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Robin Robison of Quaker Peace and Social Witness; Liane Schalatek of the Heinrich Böll Foundation; and John Sewell of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The briefing focused on the policy options outlined in a paper on the "Doha Development Agenda and Aid for Trade".
  • On September 5, Simonetta Nardin and Jenny Bisping of the External Relations Department (EXR) met with representatives of ActionAid International: Specioza N. Kiwanuka from Uganda; Raphael Yves Pierre from Haiti; Tasleem Mazkar from Pakistan; Patrick Watt from the United Kingdom; Tennyson Williams from Sierra Leone; and Rick Rowden from the U.S. to discuss IMF relations with CSOs.
  • On September 5-6, Robin Robison from London-based Quaker Peace and Social Witness, visited Fund staff for meetings on Uganda, Nicaragua, and on Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA). Robison met with the African Department's (AFR) Uganda team for a discussion of economic development in the conflict-ridden northern region of Uganda. He also met with the Western Hemisphere Department's (WHD) Nicaragua mission chief, Vikram Haksar, for an update on Nicaragua's economic situation. Haksar advised CSOs to focus on the issue of transfers to universities and the judiciary instead of domestic debt. Robison concluded with a meeting with Robert Gillingham to discuss the work of the PSIA group.
  • On September 21, Human Right's Watch's (HRW) Julianne Kippenberg and Arvind Ganesan met jointly with AFR's Burundi mission team and the World Bank's country team to discuss the HRW's recent report "A High Price to Pay: Detention of Poor Patients in Hospitals." The meeting served as an opportunity to outline Fund and Bank program design, conditionality, and the need for greater fiscal transparency in the health sector.
  • Athanasios Vamvakidis of the European Department (EUR) participated in the Meeting of Southeast European Parliamentarians Conference organized by the Parliamentary Network of the World Bank and the Greek Parliament in Athens on September 29-30. Vamvakidis participated in two workshops, "Good Governance and Doing Business in the Balkans" and "Trade and Transport Facilitation in Southeast Europe."
  • EXR's Sofia Soromenho-Ramos attended the Founding Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation in Vienna on November 1-3. The launch of the ITUC followed the dissolution of the two largest global union federations, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the World Confederation of Labor. The event served as an opportunity to meet with delegates from several countries to discuss the ongoing dialogue between the IMF and trade unions.

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Upcoming meetings

  • The IMF-World Bank High-Level Biennial Meetings with Labor Unions will be held on December 11-13. The meetings will bring approximately 60 trade union leaders to Washington to discuss the IMF and World Bank's current programs and labor issues.

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Invitation to comment

  • The IMF is calling for public comment on the proposed revised Code of Good Practices and Fiscal Transparency together with a six-question survey by November 17. The four core principles of the original Code remain unchanged in the revision: institutional clarity, open budget processes, public information, and integrity. However, the document has been updated and broadened to reflect recent developments and practices. It intends to lead to better-informed public debate about the design and results of fiscal policy, make governments more accountable for the implementation of fiscal policy, and thereby strengthen credibility and public understanding of economic policies and choices to promote good governance. To provide your comments, please complete the questionnaire electronically and return it by email to by November 17, 2006. If you are unable to complete the survey electronically, please feel free to fax it to: +01 (202) 589-6956.

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Inside the IMF

  • On October 23, Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato proposed the appointment of Murilo Portugal, a Brazilian national, as Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. Portugal, 58, served as Deputy Finance Minister of Brazil from 2005-2006, Executive Director to the IMF from 1998-2005, and as Executive Director at the World Bank Group from 1996-2000. Portugal will succeed Agustín Carstens, who left the Fund in early October to accept an appointment in Mexico to President-elect Felipe Calderon's transition team. Portugal has also held other positions in Brazil, including Secretary of the National Treasury and in the Office of President, and at the Finance and Planning Ministries. Portugal holds a law and economics degree from the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro and the universities of Cambridge and Manchester in the United Kingdom.
  • On August 22, Raghuram Rajan, the IMF's Economic Counselor and Director of the Research Department, notified Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato of his intention to return to his professorship at the Graduate School of Business of the University of Chicago by early 2007. A successor has not yet been named.

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Selected speeches

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Selected publications

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