Selected Decisions and Selected Documents of the IMF, Thirty- Eighth Issue -- Statement by the Managing Director on the Strengthened Cooperative Strategy on Overdue Financial Obligations to the Fund, Executive Board Meeting 90/38, March 16, 1990

Prepared by the Legal Department of the IMF
As updated as of February 29, 2016

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ARTICLE XXVI
Remedial Measures on Overdue Financial Obligations to the Fund

Statement by the Managing Director on the Strengthened Cooperative Strategy on Overdue Financial Obligations to the Fund

Executive Board Meeting 90/38, March 16, 1990

2. Measures of deterrence

Measures of deterrence are a second key element of the cooperative strategy that need to be strengthened further. The Fund recently adopted important new procedures in this area and communications to all Fund Governors and selected heads of multilateral financial institutions have been sent in three cases and have borne some fruit.

Executive Directors have agreed that it would be appropriate to widen the scope and strengthen the application of deterrent measures to underscore the Fund’s firm resolve to deal with the arrears problem. There is general support for the proposition that a clear timetable and sequence for the implementation of such measures, from the emergence of arrears to the final step of initiation of procedures for compulsory withdrawal, would help remove any misperceptions about the actions to be taken by the Fund when a member falls into arrears or about the consequences of noncooperation. The presumption would be that this timetable would be followed in all cases unless in the Board’s judgment a different approach were justified in an individual case.

As compared with the procedures contained in my statement at (EBM/89/101, 7/27/89), the main changes suggested relate to the (i) periodic reviews by the Executive Board of decisions limiting the use of the general resources by the member in arrears which, if the overdue obligations are not settled, leads to a declaration of ineligibility; and (ii) timing and content of measures taken after a declaration of ineligibility. Previously, the Executive Board has held as many as five reviews of its decision to limit a member’s use of the general resources before a declaration of ineligibility was adopted; the total length of time between these two actions has been as long as thirteen months, and the period between the emergence of arrears and a declaration of ineligibility has been as long as two years. Many Directors have expressed the view that the number of reviews before a declaration of ineligibility should in general be limited. As regards the post-ineligibility period, in the event a member continues in its failure to fulfill its financial obligations, present procedures call for communications to be sent to all Governors within six months. It is proposed to shorten that period, and also to make explicit the timing of a declaration of noncooperation and of the initiation of the procedure for compulsory withdrawal.

I believe that there is wide support for new procedures under which a member in arrears to the Fund would be declared ineligible to use the general resources no later than twelve months after the emergence of arrears, with the exact timing depending on the Executive Board’s assessment of the specific circumstances and of the efforts being made by the member to fulfill its obligations to the Fund. The sending of communications to all Fund Governors and the heads of selected international financial institutions regarding the member’s continued failure to fulfill its financial obligations to the Fund would be considered within three months after the declaration of ineligibility. At present, these communications may be followed by a public declaration of noncooperation if the member continues to fail to cooperate. The Executive Board would be asked to consider such a declaration not later than four months after the dispatch of these communications (i.e., within nineteen months of the emergence of arrears), unless the Executive Board were to conclude that there had been a decisive improvement in the member’s cooperation with the Fund.

A declaration of noncooperation is an intermediate step before compulsory withdrawal. At present, such a declaration of noncooperation would note the availability to the Fund of procedures on compulsory withdrawal. This procedure should be strengthened by the initiation by the Executive Board of procedures for compulsory withdrawal within five months of the declaration of noncooperation (i.e., within two years of the emergence of arrears), if the member continues to fail to comply with its obligations and to cooperate actively with the Fund toward clearance of its arrears. A recommendation of compulsory withdrawal can be made by the Executive Board by a simple majority, although withdrawal can be required only by a majority of Governors having 85 percent of the total voting power.

In our discussion of financing in relation to the arrears strategy we have had a preliminary review of financial and legal aspects of compulsory withdrawal, and I believe that the general provisions on the basis of which we would need to proceed are understood. In such circumstances, the Executive Board might need to consider the appropriate means to rebuild the Fund’s precautionary balances, which would normally imply increasing the Fund’s operating income or supplementing it by other exceptional means. In this connection, it has been noted that as a last resort, the sale of part of the Fund’s gold could help restore the Fund’s financial position.

The timetable proposed would help to make clear to members the need to prevent arrears and to act expeditiously to deal with them if they arose, as well as the consequences of not doing so. It would also provide sufficient time for such members to adopt the adjustment measures needed to move toward restoring domestic and external economic balance. Such a timetable is not to be understood as a period of grace, and the Executive Board would need to be prepared to accelerate action when appropriate, particularly in the early stages prior to a declaration of ineligibility. For the eleven members with protracted arrears, some Executive Directors have stressed that it would be appropriate to apply the new schedule with a degree of flexibility. This is reasonable, but we will need also to keep in mind that these members have already been given a great deal of time to demonstrate their cooperation with the Fund.

In all cases, there is a need for tangible and continuous support for the Fund from the international financial community. In cases of members that were not cooperating, the Fund would expect bilateral creditors and other multilateral agencies to initiate an intensive dialogue with the member in arrears to persuade it to respect the preferred creditor status of the Fund, and to consider reducing and, if necessary, suspending assistance to members that are not cooperating with the Fund. There is a need to convince creditors and donors that persistent financing of a member’s inadequate policies is detrimental to the interests of creditors, donors, and debtors alike. The Fund will also ask other official creditors to follow the practice of Paris Club creditors and not engage in rescheduling in the absence of a Fund arrangement or a Fund-monitored program. Furthermore, I believe Executive Directors have supported the proposition that creditors receiving payments from members in arrears to the Fund should be requested, at the least, to urge such members to direct payments to the Fund.

The Board has agreed that a member must first discharge its overdue obligations to the General Resources Account before it can be permitted to consent or to pay for an increase in its quota in connection with the Ninth General Review; and if a member had not increased its quota within the prescribed period, the proposal for an increase in quota should lapse. The Board’s consideration of an extension of the period for consent or payment would take into account the situation of members with overdue obligations that are cooperating with the Fund to resolve their arrears problem in the context of a Fund-monitored program.

The measures of prevention and deterrence described above, if applied firmly in the day-to-day operations of the Fund, can provide a powerful mechanism to prevent the emergency of new arrears cases, lead to their rapid elimination if problems do develop, and, jointly with the measures of support suggested in the next section, offer to noncooperating members a last opportunity to move with no further delay onto a more collaborative path. I believe that we should adopt these measures immediately.

At the same time we should pursue expeditiously the necessary work on an amendment of the Articles to introduce into the Fund’s Articles a provision similar in some respects to those already existing in other multilateral financial institutions, notably the World Bank i.e., a provision to suspend voting and related rights for cases of continuing breach of obligations to the Fund. Such an amendment would provide an additional instrument of deterrence. The staff will prepare a paper for Executive Board consideration in April which will focus on the substantive issues related to an amendment of the Articles of Agreement. In particular, the following matters would need to be discussed: the scope of suspension; the conditions for suspension; the relationship of suspension to other deterrent measures; the decision making procedures; and the majority required. I continue to believe that the qualified majority for suspension should be set at 70 percent of the total voting power. The staff paper would elaborate on these matters, examining the consequences of different approaches and exploring the modalities of an amendment.

Attachment

Measures for Prevention/Deterrence of Overdue Financial Obligations to the Fund—Strengthened Timetable of Procedures1

Time after Emergence of Arrears Action
Immediately Staff sends a cable urging the member to make the payment promptly; this communication is followed up through the office of the concerned Executive Director. The member is not permitted any use of the Fund’s resources nor is any request for the use of Fund resources placed before the Executive Board until the arrears are cleared.
2 weeks Management sends a communication to the Governor for the member stressing the seriousness of the failure to meet obligations and urging full and prompt settlement.
1 month The Managing Director notifies the Executive Board that an obligation is overdue.
6 weeks The Managing Director notifies the member that unless the overdue obligations are settled promptly a complaint will be issued to the Executive Board. The Managing Director would also consult with and recommend to the Executive Board that a communication concerning the member’s situation should be sent to selected Fund Governors or to all Fund Governors in the event that the member has not improved its cooperation with the Fund.
2 months A complaint regarding the member’s overdue obligations is issued by the Managing Director to the Executive Board.
3 months A brief factual statement noting the existence and amount of arrears is posted on the Fund’s external website, and will be updated as necessary. It also indicates that the member’s access to Fund resources, including Trust resources, has been and will remain suspended for as long as arrears remain outstanding. The complaint is given substantive consideration by the Executive Board. The Board has usually decided to limit the member’s use of the general resources and, if overdue SDR obligations are involved, suspend its right to use SDRs. A press release is
issued following the Board’s decision to limit the member’s use of the general resources or, if the member has overdue obligations in the SDR Department, to suspend its right to use SDRs. A similar press release will be issued following a decision to lift such limitation or suspension.
6–12 months The Executive Board will review its decision on limitation within three months, with the possibility of a second review if warranted. Depending on the Executive Board’s assessment of the specific circumstances and of the efforts being made by the member to fulfill its obligations to the Fund, a declaration of ineligibility be considered to take effect not more than twelve months after the emergence of arrears. The sending of communications to all Fund Governors and the heads of selected international financial institutions regarding the member’s continued failure to fulfill its financial obligations to the Fund is to be considered at the same time as the declaration of ineligibility.
Up to 15 months A declaration of noncooperation will be considered within three months after the dispatch of the communications. Upon a declaration of noncooperation, technical assistance to the member will be suspended unless the Executive Board decides otherwise.
Up to 18 months A decision on suspension of voting and representation rights will be considered within three months after the declaration of noncooperation.
Up to 24 months The procedure on compulsory withdrawal will be initiated within six months after the decision on suspension.

1 Based on the procedures for dealing with members with overdue financial obligations to the Fund adopted by the Executive Board on August 17, 1989, as amended by Decision No. 12546-(01/84), adopted on August 22, 2001.

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