The Fund's Transparency Policy — Progress Report on Publication of Country Documents
September 23, 2002

Transparency at the IMF
A Factsheet

Documents Related to the September 28, 2002 International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) Meeting

The Fund's Transparency Policy
Statement by Horst Köhler
Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
on the Occasion of the Sixth Meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee
September 25, 2002

1. The Fund's publication policy increases both accountability and the availability of reliable information to the public. Systematic and timely publication of country staff reports can play an important role in mobilizing support for policy actions. Release of Article IV staff reports is intended to enhance the effectiveness of Fund surveillance by facilitating better risk assessment. Similarly, publication of staff reports on use of Fund resources provides the broader context for Fund-supported programs, thereby strengthening the credibility of, and public confidence in, such programs and enhancing country ownership of these programs.

2. In concluding their recent review of the Fund's transparency policies, Executive Directors commended the significant increase in the availability of information about the Fund and its assessments of members policies. 1 They welcomed the increasing publication rates for country documents. Nearly all policy intention documents of countries requesting Fund financial assistance are published and more than half of staff reports on Article IV consultations and on use of Fund resources are published by voluntary decision of country authorities. Policy papers prepared by the staff for the Executive Board are also published.

3. The Executive Board considered further steps to enhance transparency of the Fund and of its members' policies. With regard to the Fund's own transparency, the Board endorsed presumed publication of Fund policy papers and a shortened lag for public access to the minutes of Executive Board meetings. Regarding country staff reports, it was agreed to maintain the present policy of voluntary publication for Article IV consultation reports and staff reports on the use of Fund resources, while monitoring the impact of the Fund's publication policy on the candor of the Fund's dialogue with its members and in the staff's reporting to the Board. Going forward, the Fund will continue to encourage publication of country staff reports. In this regard, Executive Directors, and the membership more broadly, have an important role to play in strengthening the momentum generated by the positive peer demonstration effect that has persuaded the rising number of members to agree to voluntarily publish staff reports.

4. The Board also discussed the impact that the publication of documents has on markets, the public and the Fund. One longstanding concern has been that the Fund remains a confidential and candid advisor to members, which is crucial for the effectiveness of Fund surveillance. Taking into account indications that staff sometimes face pressures to nuance presentation of issues in staff reports, even while preserving the substance of its assessments, Executive Directors urged staff to continue to work to ensure proper balance between candor and confidentiality. The Board also reviewed the experience with the implementation of the policies on deletions and corrections. While there was broad agreement that the present deletions policy works well, as the number of deletions had been limited, there were proposals to apply this policy more flexibly. In view of the high volume of corrections, Directors agreed on the need for greater parsimony and rigor in implementing the corrections policy, while ensuring that the Board is fully informed at the time of its discussion.

5. Against this background, it was deemed important to review periodically the progress made with respect to publication of country staff reports, to maintain the momentum within the present voluntary guidelines. Specifically, Executive Directors requested information on publication rates by country and region. The attached progress report indicates that over 60 percent of staff reports on Article IV consultations, and over half of reports on the use of Fund resources, are published, although the publication rates vary considerably by region. 2 It is worth noting that, as of August 23, 2002, nine more countries than reported in the Board paper for the transparency review circulated in May 2002, published their staff reports for the first time; this brings to 117 the number of Fund members that have published their staff reports since January 2001. Nearly all members consent to publish their policy intention documents when requesting Fund financial assistance, and Public Information Notices are published following over 80 percent of Article IV Board discussions.

6. The next Board review of transparency policy will take place in June 2003. At that time, Directors will reconsider a possible move to a policy of presumed publication of country staff reports, and review the implementation of the deletion and corrections policy and discuss the proposal to allow deletion of highly politically sensitive information from country staff reports. In the period ahead, we expect further progress under the present policy of voluntary publication of country staff reports, in particular that publication rates will continue to rise. At the time of the spring 2003 IMFC meeting, staff will provide another progress report presenting information on publication practices by country and region.

1 See The Acting Chair's Summing Up: The Fund's Transparency Policy-Review of the Experience and Next Steps, Executive Board Meeting 02/93, September 5, 2002 (BUFF/02/141).
2 The Fund's Transparency Policy-Progress Report on Publication of Country Documents (SM/02/302, 9/23/02).