IMF and Good Governance

June 24, 2022

The IMF places great emphasis on promoting good governance when providing policy advice, financial support, and technical assistance to its member countries. The IMF also has measures in place to ensure integrity, impartiality, and honesty in the discharge of its own professional obligations.

Good governance is key to economic success

Governance is a broad concept covering all aspects of how a country is governed, including its economic policies, regulatory framework, and adherence to rule of law. Poor governance offers greater incentives and more opportunities for corruption—the abuse of public office for private gain. Corruption undermines the public’s trust in its government. It also threatens market integrity, distorts competition, and endangers economic development. Because poor governance is clearly detrimental to economic activity and welfare, the IMF adopted in 1997 a policy on how to address economic governance, embodied in the Guidance Note “The Role of the IMF in Governance Issues." To further strengthen the implementation of this policy, the IMF adopted in 2018 a new Framework for Enhanced Engagement on Governance. The framework aims to promote more systematic, effective, candid, and evenhanded engagement with member countries regarding governance vulnerabilities—including corruption—that are critical to macroeconomic performance.

Promoting good governance

The IMF works with its member countries to promote good governance and combat corruption. In its surveillance, lending, and technical assistance, the IMF covers economic governance issues that fall within its mandate and expertise, concentrating on issues likely to have a significant impact on macroeconomic performance and the country authorities’ ability to pursue sound economic policies. In doing so, the IMF stresses evenhandedness across its member countries and collaborates closely with other multilateral institutions.

IMF surveillance involves annual reviews of countries’ economic policies, carried out through Article IV consultations. In the process, staff may discuss economic consequences arising from poor governance and advise on reforms to strengthen governance and fight corruption.  

Good governance is also promoted via IMF-supported programs—economic measures and reforms supported by IMF financial assistance. When warranted, specific measures to strengthen governance may become part of the program’s conditionality. Many of the structural conditions in IMF-supported programs focus on improving governance and reducing vulnerabilities to corruption.  This includes strengthening public expenditure controls; publishing audited accounts of government agencies, central banks, and state enterprises; making revenue administration less discretionary; increasing the transparency of natural resource management; enhancing bank supervision; reforming regulatory frameworks to reduce the scope for bribes; strengthening anti-money laundering measures; and fortifying anti-corruption legal frameworks, such as asset declaration requirements for senior government officials.

In all of these areas, the IMF also provides technical assistance to help build effective economic institutions and advise countries on how policies can be strengthened to improve governance and reduce vulnerabilities to corruption.

IMF initiatives that promote good governance

The IMF promotes good governance in two main areas: i) the management of public resources through reforms covering public sector institutions; and ii) the development and maintenance of a transparent and stable economic and regulatory environment conducive to private sector activities. Several initiatives involve close collaboration with other international organizations.

Integrity starts at home

As a means of safeguarding its resources , the IMF assesses the governance and transparency frameworks within central banks of countries to which it lends money. In the process, it promotes sound oversight, internal control, auditing, and public financial reporting mechanisms in these critical financial institutions.

To promote good governance within its own organization, the IMF has adopted a number of integrity measures, including a code of conduct for staff —bolstered by financial certification and disclosure requirements, and sanctions—a similar code of conduct for members of the Executive Board , and an integrity hotline offering protection to “whistleblowers.” The IMF Ethics Office advises the institution and its staff on ethics issues, inquires into alleged violations of rules and regulations, and oversees the ethics and integrity training program for all staff members.

[1] Following a request from the International Monetary and Financial Committee, IMF staff reviewed the implementation of the 1997 policy. Its findings were discussed by the IMF’s Executive Board on July 21, 2017.