Transcript of a Press Conference of the Chair of the Intergovernmental Group of Twenty Four (G24) on International Monetary Affairs and Development

October 11, 2023





Mr. Andrew Kanyegirire, IMF


Mr. Adama Coulibaly, Minister of Economy and Finance, Côte d’ Ivoire

G-24 Chair

Mr. Benjamin E. Diokno, Secretary of Finance of the Philippines

G-24 1st Vice Chair

Ms. Cecilia Nahon, World Bank Group Executive Director representing Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay

G-24 2nd Vice Chair


G-24 Secretariat

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Mr. Kanyegirire: Good afternoon. My apologies for keeping you waiting. Thank you very much for coming to this press briefing/press conference on the G‑24. My name is Andrew Kanyegirire. I am with the Media Relations team at the IMF. I have a few small intros. We only have about half an hour, so we will try to be quick. Please have your headsets nearby. We have some bilingual speakers. The speakers are, to my immediate left is Mr. Adama Coulibaly, who is the Minister of Economy and Finance for Coté d’Ivoire. He is also the Chair. We also have the First Vice‑Chair, Mr. Benjamin Diokno, Secretary, Department of Finance for the Philippines. We also have Second Vice‑Chair, Ms. Cecilia Nahon, Executive Director at the World Bank Group representing Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. And then we also have the Director for the G‑24 Secretariat, Ms. Iyabo Masha.

We will have a Communiqué issued soon after this press conference. There will also be a press release issued after the press conference. We will have copies in the Press Center. You can pick up a hard copy there if you need one immediately. And without further ado, I will pass on to Minister Coulibaly for some opening remarks, and then we will come to the Q&A session. Thank you. Minister.

Mr. Coulibaly via Interpreter: Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, I would like to extend a warm welcome to each of you. As we convene for this press conference during our meeting today, we acknowledge the convergence of many crises and disruptions that have cast shadows over the global economy, impairing worldwide stability. These multifaceted challenges include natural disasters and geopolitical tensions, a sluggish economic recovery, a moderating inflation but a slower decline in food and energy crisis. And growing number of nations are facing declining access to financing, increasing interest rates, prompting capital movements and heightening financing risks, particularly for developing nations, substantial setbacks in the achievements of development and climate goals.

You have at your disposal a comprehensive Communiqué and press release encapsulating the discussions held today. Allow me to briefly highlight the key takeaways.

We commend the efforts undertaken by the International Monetary Fund to support growth through the Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) and the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT). However, considering the magnitude of the challenges that countries face, we call for an easing of the requirements for RST to allow more countries to benefit. In addition, we call for an increase in donations to the PRGT, which supports the poorest countries.

We continue to emphasize the necessity of a robust Global Financial Safety Net (GFSN) with an adequately‑funded IMF at its core. In this regard, while we commend the IMF for its readiness to support member countries, we call for a review of its surcharge policy, as it is a huge financial burden on countries at a time of economic uncertainty.

We reiterate our call for the timely completion of the IMF Sixteenth General Review of Quotas, including agreement on the revised quota formula. This formula should shift quota allocations from advanced economies to dynamic emerging markets and developing economies to better mirror their increasing influence in the global economy while safeguarding the representation and voice of impoverished nations.

We call for the implementation of the long overdue increase in the representation of Sub‑Saharan Africa at the IMF Executive Board.

In the realm of the World Bank Group, we applaud ongoing deliberations regarding its evolution. We reaffirm the fundamental goals of eradiating extreme poverty and fostering shared prosperity while aiding developing nations in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Beyond climate change, conflict, fragility, and pandemic preparedness and prevention, we urge the World Bank Group to amplify its support for initiatives such as access to affordable water and energy, human capital development, digital advancement, and debt sustainability.

Addressing the issue of mounting debt, we call for immediate global actions to assist developing countries in managing their escalating debt vulnerabilities.

We noted the experience of countries under the G‑20 Common Framework, but we also called on debt cancellation for the most vulnerable and poor countries, most of whose debt is owed to the multilateral development banks and the IMF. We caution that it is a debt crisis that could stifle sustainable and inclusive growth.

Regarding climate measures, we urge all nations to fulfill their nationally‑determined contributions in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement and to enhance climate financing, including for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage.

On the front of taxation, we stress the significance of international tax cooperation in establishing equitable tax regulations and generating resources essential for investments in economic revival, climate action, and the SDGs.

We lend our support to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution on the inclusive and efficient tax reform initiative.

Lastly, we express apprehension about the mounting trade protectionism and the sluggish pace of reforms in the global trading system. We encourage bolstering the World Trade Organization in designing a resilient multilateral trade system that benefits all parties and reinforces the role of trade in the global economy. Having said all of this, I am happy to take your questions. Thank you.

Mr. Kanyegirire: Thank you, Minister, for your comprehensive remarks, Minister. We will go to the Q&A section. Please raise your hand and let us know where you are from, and we will probably take one question at a time. The lady in red, please.

Questioner: I have a question for Minister Coulibaly. You said it was necessary to review the quota. Is it the case that the G‑24 is in favor of a redistribution of the votes within the IMF, in which case should Europe reduce its own voting rights because Europe does not have the same weight in the global economy?

Mr. Coulibaly via Interpreter: Thank you for this first question. As you well know, the issue of votes and representativeness at the Bretton Woods Institution has been an issue for a number of months. What we at the G‑24 believe is that we should have more representation. We never wanted this increase to be at the expense of votes from another region, but there are existing principles, and we simply express our concerns, our wishes, and, of course, there should be some fair redistribution. Now, should that happen at the expense of existing votes of other regions, that was not what we were after, but what we are saying is there should be a representation in line with the number of countries and indeed the challenges facing the Bretton Woods Institution because there are many of us, and we will also need to express our voices so that our concerns are taken on board at the Bretton Woods Institution.

Now, I do not want to dwell on this, but there is such thing as climate pressure and our position on climate is, well, yes, we should all address the effects of climate change, but we should not ignore the fact that we have important issues at home, in particular, financing issues, debt issues, and so therefore that has to be taken on board. In other words, the climate issues should not leave behind the entire issue of fighting poverty and development issues.

Mr. Kanyegirire: Mr. Diokno, did you want to chime in on this?

Mr. Diokno: The question has been sufficiently answered. Thank you.

Mr. Kanyegirire: This gentleman to the right at the front.

Question: Thank you very much. Ramah Nyang from Bloomberg. A two‑part question for you, Minister Coulibaly, if I may. One, you have called for the cancellation of debt in order to help developing countries, the poorest, most vulnerable countries to cope with their debt service costs. By implication, therefore, it seems to me you are suggesting the Common Framework has not met its objectives. It has basically failed. Is that the case? If so, would you like it to be reformed, enhanced in a different way? As a follow‑up to that question, what about the question of super seniority, because one of the things that has come up with some of the countries that we have dealt with in debt crises, it has come up with Zambia especially, the question of everyone else should take some pain, bilateral creditors, commercial creditors, but the IMF and the World Bank essentially do not have that touched. Should we revisit that principle? Is that something that G‑24 should be calling for?

Mr. Coulibaly via Interpreter: Thank you for this second question. When we call for debt cancellation, that is for the poorest countries. We are not seeing that debt as a whole should be cancelled for all countries. That has not been the position neither by the G‑24 nor indeed the countries concerned. But what we are seeing is the Common Framework of the G‑20 has worked. It has not failed. It has made it possible to address a number of issues, but for it to be more effective, all creditors should be convened around the table. I do not mean to name them, but all parties should be convened, including private creditors, so that for a solution to be implemented as effectively as possible, you cannot have a solution within the G‑20 when some of the key creditors are not there to put their views and when commitments taken by the G‑20 bind all creditors because otherwise, of course, that could bring about difficulties.

I am not saying that the G‑20 Common Framework has failed, but our wish is that for all creditors to come around the table and address the issue. And to address your follow‑up question on private creditors, we would like them to be stakeholders in all the solutions. When initiatives were introduced at the G‑20 level, there was some hesitation at the beginning - who was involved and who was not, what should we do with rates and such like. At the end, things have evolved. Now all creditors, including those you mentioned, are prepared to come around the table and try to find a solution easily implemented that will really address the issue of debt distress for G‑24 countries.

Mr. Kanyegirire: I will come to the middle here and we will come around. Let us work this middle section.

Questioner: Hi, Zulfick Farzan from News 1st in Sri Lanka here. Minister, you were mentioning, I would like to ask my colleagues a question as well about slashing debt for developing countries. Now, Sri Lanka has been faced—declared bankruptcy in 2022 and still has failed to achieve an agreement with all its creditors, especially with China, to restructure its debt and return to normalcy. Was this discussed at the G‑24 meeting today? And also, if so, what kind of measures is the G‑24 calling on China to step in and solve Sri Lanka’s debt crisis?

Mr. Kanyegirire: Secretary Diokno, do you want to take this one?

Mr. Diokno: Yes. The G‑24 countries is composed of 24 countries with different socioeconomic situations, right? Some are heavily indebted. Others are not. Some have recovered from the pandemic. Others continue to suffer. For example, if you are in a situation where your debt servicing exceeds your budget for health and education, I think that should be considered a top priority for any assistance from MDBs, right? So that is part of the Communiqué. We hope that the MDBs will consider such countries where they are in a really bad position. Thank you.

Mr. Kanyegirire: Iyabo, do you want to chime in?

Ms. Masha: Yes, what I will add is Sri Lanka seems to be making some progress. It has done some of its restructuring within the concept of the Common Framework, and it is now working on the roundtable. The roundtable is going to meet during this week in Marrakech, so I see that there could be some progress on that regard.

Mr. Kanyegirire: Thank you. Our time is going fast. We can probably take another round. The gentleman in front of me with the cap. This one, yes.

Questioner: [In Spanish]

Mr. Kanyegirire: Mr. Chair, do you want to take it? Ms. Nahon.

Ms. Nahon: Thank you very much for your question. I think I am the only one that got it in Spanish. So one of the discussions that we had today in the meeting followed the presentation of the World Economic Outlook that the IMF did this morning, and the Managing Director was updating all the Ministers, was about the divergence that we are seeing now in the global economy, a divergence that was first seen very strongly during the COVID crisis but has been strengthened and not recovered over the last years, so I would recommend that you really take a look to that report to get all the indicators and the feel of how exactly this divergence at the global level we are seeing are [that] not all of the economies, in fact the least part of the economies, being able to catch up and to recover their pre‑crisis, pre‑COVID evolution. So, we are very concerned about this fact and how this is really creating additional pressure to the most vulnerable, to the people of the global south in particular.

Mr. Kanyegirire: Thank you. Mr. Coulibaly.

Mr. Coulibaly via Interpreter: Thank you very much. I would like to add only a few words. You spoke about the African continent and its related by dimension regarding debt. You know that there are 52 countries that were at a level which were in a situation of default. Among those 52 countries; 23 are African countries who had problems and could not pay their debt to the creditors. It does not mean it is the whole continent. It is only 23 out of 52 or 53 countries. So, there is a problem of financing the African economies. If you cannot finance your economy, you cannot have better economic performance. So, the matter of financing has to be solved. That is the kind of conversation we have at the level of G‑24. So, we pay a lot of attention to African countries, obviously, but G‑24 does not represent Africa only. It represents countries of all continents. African countries have improved its situation regarding public finance management, the anticorruption measures. We have made headway. Now, each country has to keep on working and improving the situation.

Now, regarding our participation in the international economy, we need concessional resources. As you know, many countries do not have access or it is quite difficult for those countries to have access to international markets, so we need to improve the availability of internal, of domestic resources, and that is what is emphasized in the Communiqué. Thank you.

Mr. Kanyegirire: Questions? Lady at the back right there, and then we will come to the gentleman in the middle and that is it.

Questioner: Thank you. I would like to know what the conversation has been surrounding the expansion of the Food Shock Window and the Resilience and Sustainability Trust because you have been calling for an expansion for quite some time now and seeing as some of your members, especially those in Africa, are still challenged when it comes to food security, what has been the conversation? Has there been any expansion at all?

Mr. Kanyegirire: Iyabo, go ahead.

Ms. Masha: Thank you very much for that. As you know, the Food Shock Window was supposed to be a temporary facility that ought to expire sometime this year, but as part of the concern about the persistence of the food shock, persistence of inflation, the IMF Board did come to an agreement to extend the Window, so that then gives more countries the opportunity to qualify and use the Window. We are happy with that as the G‑24 because many of our countries are impacted by high food prices and some of them are using the window and some of them are using other forms of facilities. Thank you.

Mr. Kanyegirire: The gentleman in the middle here and that will be our last question.

Questioner: Hello. Jakob [inaudible], Danish Press Association. What is the G‑24 position on increasing calls from civil society for debt cancellation; and do you have a strategy for approaching both civil society and the IMF or multilateral development banks on such matters; and also, specifically how do you plan to assert your influence on this decisive issue vis‑a‑vis the lenders? Thank you.

Mr. Kanyegirire: Secretary Diokno, do you want to come in? Minister Coulibaly, go ahead.

Mr. Coulibaly via Interpreter: Thank you. I think it goes back to what I said regarding the Common Framework, the G‑20 Common Framework. What we often say now, exchanges with the multilateral development banks, the IMF, the World Bank, and the regional development banks, we have said so. We wish those banks to work in close cooperation with the multilateral creditors and also with civil society. We are transparent. We are open because to us civil society is an important actor which relays what we do. The civil society, as you know, very often denounces matters on debt and some countries need to have their voice heard. The more civil society is involved, the more the voice of highly indebted countries will be heard. We are partners. We do not have anything to hide. We wish to be as transparent as possible because we feel that all actors should be around the same table in order to settle once and for all the matter of debt. I have said it. The international agenda called for a global answer. We spoke about the food shock, of course, but we also have to take into account the impact of COVID, the war in Ukraine. So, there is a lot of uncertainty. If we add to that the effects of climate change, the situation is very complex.

So, each country has to improve and to bring forward the international agenda, which means that we have to solve the existing problem. We do not wish new problems to jeopardize the situation. The matter of problems of climate change, everybody agrees that we have to solve them through a global response, but we should not forget that while we solve climate change problems, we should not forget that we also still have problems due to poverty and the lack of development. And we have to work at the same time on all those issues in order to create a better world. That is why we advocate and wish all actors to be involved in the answer in the response we are going to give.

Mr. Kanyegirire: Thank you, Minister. Thank you to all the panelists. Do you have a last word for us?

Ms. Masha: Thank you very much for attending the G‑24 press conference. This will be the last press conference of Minister Adama Coulibaly of the Ivory Coast and the new chair of the G‑24, effective after the Annual Meetings, is the Minister of Finance of the Philippines, Mr. Benjamin Diokno. Thank you all very much, and I hope that you will also extend to him the same kind of cooperation you have extended to Minister Coulibaly. Thank you. (Applause). Minister, do you want to respond?

Mr. Kanyegirire: We are good. So, the Communiqué will be on the website. The press release has been issued, and you can also get a copy at the Press Center. Thank you very much.

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