Advisory group calls for reforms in IMF


The G30, a group of prominent bankers, policy makers, and economists, has on Monday called for sweeping reforms in the International Monetary Fund, warning that the impetus for change would wane as pain from the financial crisis fades.

In a report released at the semi-annual IMF and World Bank meetings, the Group of 30 said nations should quickly change the way the Fund is governed to reflect shifts in global economic power, and move to enhance its ability to provide reserves to calm future crises.

The group proposed a new governing council for the fund, a parallel of the newly empowered Group of 20 emerging and rich nations, and it recommended more use of flexible credit lines that emerging economies can draw on in times of need.

Member countries make observations

Bank of Mexico Governor and G30 member Guillermo Ortiz, said . "The question of reserve pooling is already happening in Asia," adding that the flexible credit lines were the first "stigma free" IMF contingency loan facility.

Mexico has a $47 billion flexible credit line with the IMF, which granted Colombia a similar $10.5 billion facility in May as a one-year precautionary measure to boost investor confidence.

The report stopped short, however, of calling for the Fund to act as a sort of global central bank, as some politicians from emerging countries have suggested.

Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said on Sunday the he would support the Fund offering liquidity and currency swaps, as central banks do. He said such a role could eliminate the need for countries to build up foreign exchange reserves, as some large developing countries, including China and Brazil, have done in recent years.

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Friday had called on countries to provide for a large increase in the Fund's resources -perhaps to the tune of $1 trillion or more -so it could play a credible lender of last resort role for the world economy.

He said this would curb the desire of emerging nations to amass large foreign exchange reserves they could use in times of crisis and, in turn, bring about better balance in the global economy.

Council could parallel G20
The G30 report recommended that the Fund create a new governing body, which it dubbed "the IMF Council," to oversee the global lender's executive board and provide "strategic direction." The council would have a membership that provides more weight to emerging economies, such as China, India and Brazil.

The council, which would replace IMF's current steering committee, would most likely be closely associated with membership of the G20. "There is a possibility of mapping the G20 into the council," Ortiz said.

The group also proposed that the size of the IMF's board be reduced to 20 seats from 24 by halving the number of seats held by European countries to four, and called for quick action to give emerging economies more voting power.

Voting powers, known as quotas, would be adjusted in the future through an automatic mechanism. China had made a similar plea before the IMF's steering committee on Sunday.

The IMF has been tasked by the Group of 20 developed and emerging nations to increase its economic and currency surveillance efforts and provide reviews of steps G20 nations are taking to reduce global trade and financial imbalances.

But these efforts would be more effective if the fund was more representative of the global economy, said G30 Chairman Jacob Frankel, a former governor of the Bank of Israel.
"The authority of the Fund depends on the respect that the Fund enjoys," Frankel added.

Yi Gang, a vice central bank governor of the People's Bank of China, said on Sunday the IMF should also play a role in keeping exchange rates stable.
"It should strengthen its supervision of international capital flows and encourage the relative stability of exchange rates of the main reserve currencies," he said.


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