Transcript of a Press conference by Masood Ahmed, Director of the External Relations Department, IMF

Washington D.C.
Thursday, September 20, 2007

View a Webcast of the press briefing

MR. AHMED: Good morning. Let's get started. I am Masood Ahmed. Welcome to our regular press briefing.

I have a few announcements I would like to start with today. Let me first of all give you a quick update on where we stand on the selection process for the new Managing Director. As you know, the Executive Board is this week interviewing two highly qualified candidates. Mr. Tošovský met with the Board on Tuesday and we issued a statement to the public on that day. And today Mr. Strauss-Kahn is meeting with the Board. In fact, their meeting is starting just now, and we expect that he will also release a statement later today.

After today we will then move into the final phase of this process which is when the Board will be deliberating on the two candidacies and the Executive Board still expects to come to closure on this and make a selection decision by the end of this month, which is to say by the end of next week. That is, if you like, the timetable for this going forward.

The second thing I want to mention to you today is to tell you that we are very happy that today we are launching our website imf.org in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian, which is adding to the recently revamped websites which we have launched in French and Spanish. This is all part of a program to enhance the Fund's efforts to communicate in languages other than English and to make our analysis and policy messages available to a broader international audience. Over the coming months we will continue to be expanding our efforts in this area. I should say that because of time constrains I am only making this announcement in English rather than in the six languages.

Let me also mention to you that on Monday, September 24, at 9:00 a.m., we will be launching the Global Financial Stability Report at a press conference with Jaime Caruana who is the Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department. Press will have access to the report under embargo starting Friday, September 21, at 4:00 p.m., so starting essentially tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Washington time. We will also have video clips summarizing the report posted in English and Spanish, and they will be available for broadcast use on Monday via News Market. Broadcasters with interview requests should contact Media Relations as soon as possible.

On Wednesday, October 10, we will release the analytic chapters of the World Economic Outlook, and a week later, on October 17, we will launch the global forecast Chapters of the World Economic Outlook. Again, Media Relations will keep you abreast of the logistics of that release.

Let me turn now to some management travel. Today the Managing Director is speaking at a joint IMF-ECLAC seminar on macroeconomic policies and social equity which is being held in Lima. He will hold a press conference with the Executive Secretary of ECLAC today at 5:00 p.m. local time.

Tomorrow the Managing Director will meet with Peruvian President Alan Garcia to discuss economic developments in Peru. Following the meeting the Managing Director will speak to the press tomorrow in Peru at 11:00 a.m. local time.

On Monday, the Managing Director will be in Madrid where he will deliver a keynote speech at the Club of Rome Annual Conference and that event will be open to the press, and interested journalists can contact the organizers for further details.

Also next week on the 27th and 28th, the First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky will speak at the Tenth Annual International Banking Conference in Chicago which is a joint event being sponsored by the IMF and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The theme of the conference this year is "Globalization and Systemic Risk." Again, his speech will be made available to the media.

Also next week the Deputy Managing Director Mr. Kato will travel to Uganda and Botswana from the 22nd to the 27th, and he will be meeting with authorities and in both countries also participating in high-level workshops on challenges and opportunities for economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.

Finally, on September 24, Deputy Managing Director Murilo Portugal will participate in the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee for the West Bank and Gaza in New York which is co-chaired by the U.N. Secretary General and the Foreign Minister of Norway. This meeting is part of the preparations for a broad-based international pledging conference in December.

On all of these events, if any of you would like additional information including on press available, please contact my colleagues in the Media Relations Division. I am happy to turn now to your questions, and again let me encourage those of you who are participating through the Media Briefing Center to send in your questions early so we can respond to them during the course of this press briefing. Please identify yourself.

QUESTIONER: Masood, can you confirm that the Board is to vote on the new Managing Director on Friday the 28th?

MR. AHMED: What I can confirm is that the Board expects to bring this process to closure by the end of next week which is Friday the 28th. Exactly when and how they are going to go about during today and next week is a process that they are going to work through and I don't know exactly when they are going to actually take a vote on it, but the idea is that by Friday next week they are going to bring this to closure.

I should also remind you that the Board has said all along in public statements that they have made, and on this occasion, as you know, the Board has made a series of public statements about the process, that they expect to appoint the next Managing Director with a broad consensus amongst the Board.

QUESTIONER: Has Mr. de Rato actually given the day that he is going to leave? Is there going to be a transition period between the two?

MR. AHMED: The expectation is that the end of October which is the period after the Annual Meetings is the point at which the existing Managing Director will be leaving and beginning in November the new Managing Director will be taking on, but I don't think that we have got to the point where we have a precise date. At the moment we don't have a nominee for the new Managing Director, so when that person has been nominated, I am sure they will be in discussion together and they will work out arrangements for ensuring a smooth transition between the two, but that is sort of roughly the date that are working towards.

QUESTIONER: I am going to ask you something instead about the IMFC and the new Chairman's selection since Gordon Brown is leaving and if you have received other nominations other than Minister Padoa-Schioppa which is the candidate of the European Union, and when do you expect the IMF to deliberate on this new nomination?

MR. AHMED: On the IMFC Chair, the process is, as you know, that there is an informal consultation amongst the members of the IMFC both in the Board but also in capitals. That process aims to converge upon an individual who then commands the broad support of the membership as the person who would chair the IMFC going forward. That process is now underway and the process of trying to converge on a single individual who would then be the chair is yet to be concluded, and that is as far as I can go in terms of where that process now stands. We do expect that that process will be concluded before the next meeting of the IMFC, but exactly when and how that will be brought to closure is more of an informal process amongst the membership.

Before I come back to you, I have a question here which has just come in via the Media Briefing Center, saying, "What is the purpose of the Managing Director's planned trip to Russia? It has been announced by the Russian Finance Ministry. Any details of the trip that you could share are most welcome."

The Managing Director is planning to visit Russia later this month and the precise details of the trip are still being worked out which is why I didn't announce it today. Its broad objective is to have discussions with the Russian authorities on the reform agenda of the IMF, on the agenda for the Annual Meetings, and in particular on how we can take forward between now and the Annual Meetings and then through the Annual Meetings the various elements of the Medium-Term Strategy that are being worked on in the IMF at the moment. So that is the objective of the agenda. When we have more specific details on the time and who he will be meeting, we will issue a press release announcing that to make sure everybody is aware of it.

QUESTIONER: I was wondering what is the IMF's assessment of the Fed's aggressive move on rates this week. Do you think it's going to be enough to avoid a recession here in the States and to cope with the global trouble on the markets?

MR. AHMED: What I can say on that is that the Fed and other central banks have rightly been emphasizing that they would be prepared to act as needed to mitigate the adverse effects on the economy arising from the disruptions in financial markets. In this context, the cut announced on Tuesday should help to forestall the adverse macroeconomic effects of the tightening in credit conditions.

QUESTIONER: I'm not sure you're going to have anything on this, but you probably know that there has been massive flooding throughout Africa and was wondering if this has triggered any sort of consultations with some of these countries on maybe some sort of emergency lending, or, I'm not sure, I'm just checking?

MR. AHMED: I don't have specifics in which countries we are engaged with, but what I can do is remind you and others that what the IMF does have is a Shocks Facility, and the purpose of the Shocks Facility is precisely to help countries where there have been unexpected shock if it translates into a balance of payments consequence and need.

I think what we will be doing in the coming weeks is obviously consulting with the authorities to see if there is an implication in terms of macroeconomic and balance of payments consequences. Obviously the main response to helping countries in dealing with the financial consequences of the flooding will come from donor agencies in grants terms and that's something that the IMF can certainly help to identify and facilitate, but it is a different role from that of the IMF.

QUESTIONER: Sorry, I have a follow-up question about the IMFC just to make sure I understood correctly. You said that and fully expect that by the next meeting of the IMFC, the new Chairman will be selected which is in October at the new meeting. I just want to ask again are you aware of any other candidates they are discussing or evaluating?

MR. AHMED: Just to confirm, yes, that we do expect that this will come to closure by the meeting of the IMFC. As to the number of candidates as it were for this position, I think the point I want to emphasize is that, as I said, this is an informal process of consultation where people try to identify names and then see who is the best person who would command the broadest support. I can't actually give you an x-number of candidates and these are the candidates. It's a slightly different sort of process from that. What I can say is that the process of converging on one name hasn't obviously come to closure yet because if it did we would be telling you what the outcome is. But it is our expectation that we will get to that point before the meeting of the IMFC.

QUESTIONER: Just to follow-up, is there an actual vote that takes place or is it just a consensus? I mean, Gordon Brown had been there for 10 years hadn't he? I've forgotten.

MR. AHMED: Yes, he has. I think I went over this at one of my earlier briefings in terms of the actual process, and just to sort of remind people of it, the Board of Governor's resolution that established the IMFC stipulates that the Chairman is selected by the Committee to serve for such a period as the Committee determines, but it allows for great flexibility on the selection process.

In line with the practice so far for the selection of the 15 Chairmen of the IMFC and its predecessor the Interim Committee, the process is one which is based primarily on this sort of informal consultation amongst IMFC members represented by their Executive Directors, but also in capitals, and at the end traditionally there is a consensus around one candidate whom all the members support. That is sort of the historical record.

As I said, where we stand now is that that process of consultations is underway, but it hasn't been concluded, and as soon as it's concluded I'll make sure that we tell you what the outcome is.

QUESTIONER: Since we are talking about bringing the process of the selection of the MD to closure by the end of next week which is the 28th, I'm assuming we'll have an announcement on the 28th. And is there actually going to be a vote or are we—it's my recollection that you don't reveal that.

MR. AHMED: There are two points that you have raised. As soon as the process of the Board reaching a conclusion on the selection of the Managing Director has come to a point where they have reached an outcome, we will certainly make an announcement. So absolutely we will be putting out information to the press to tell you that that is the decision. If they finish on the 28th, we will do it on the 28th. If they finish on the 27th, we'll do it on the 27th. Or if it's the following Monday, we will do it the following Monday. That is a process which might vary a day or so, but we'll be out there telling you when it is.

As to how they are going to come to closure, as I said before, in the end although it is done as a majority technically, what the Board has said it would like to do and has traditionally been the case is that they would like to achieve a conclusion which commands a broad consensus amongst the membership and to have an outcome which is supported by the broad majority of the membership.

If there are no more questions, thank you very much. We will have our next briefing at the same time in 2 weeks. I should say to you that what I would like to do in that briefing in two weeks is walk you through a little bit the agenda for the Annual Meetings so we can go over the different elements of the agenda over that Annual Meetings weekend.

Thank you.



IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

Public Affairs    Media Relations
E-mail: publicaffairs@imf.org E-mail: media@imf.org
Fax: 202-623-6220 Phone: 202-623-7100