Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Singapore to Host 2006 Annual Meetings of IMF and World Bank

Source: Singapore 2006

Singapore will, for the first time, host the 2006 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on September 19-20. (see EconomyWatch: IMF-World Bank Annual Meeting). Almost 16,000 delegates and observers (including private sector representatives, journalists, and special guests) will participate in the event. The IMF and World Bank Group hold a gathering of financial representatives from around the world every three years. The meeting’s venue is Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is ranked as one of the top ten of such centers in the world. During the meetings, representatives of the 184 member countries (typically including each country’s Minister of Finance) will discuss issues relating to global economic development and create policy strategies. To adhere to the transparency policy of the IMF and World Bank Group, the findings of the meetings will be communicated to the public through the media. The central theme of year’s Program of Seminars is “Asia in the World, the World in Asia.” Seminar discussion topics include: “Asia Rising: Myths & Realities,” “Corruption, Governance, and Growth,” “Energy & Security,” and “Innovation & Technology.”

Some cite the meeting in Singapore as an opportunity for the IMF and World Bank to move “from general ideas to specific proposals” for reform. [Quoted from a speech made by IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato where he presented a long list of reform proposals.] Director Rato has been trying to build a consensus around incremental reforms, in particular, he would like to see greater focus in the IMF’s surveillance reports. He has also marked the upcoming meeting as a chance to reform voting rights. [See, Singapore Hosts IMF and World Bank Annual Meeting] The United States supports reform that increases the voting quotas at the IMF of Asian countries by creating a single seat for the eurozone member countries on the board to make room for the Asians. Although the Europeans recognize the value of increasing Asian representation on the board, they seem less willing to reduce their influence at the IMF to make this happen.

Will the meetings at Singapore produce an effective and all-around satisfactory resolution to the voting dispute regarding the IMF board? What will constitute a “fair” compromise on the parts of all the member countries with regards to their current quotas on the board? Is the stakeholders’ unwillingness to concede influence or advantages to those countries who are actually in need of reform counter to the policies and purposes of the IMF and World Bank?

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