Hurry up and wait grips IMF and World Bank

By Daily Maverick Legacy 6 October 2009

It’s business unusual at the International Monetary Fund, and that should get Thabo Mbeki’s heart racing, despite his premature retirement. The head of the IMF’s policy steering committee says member countries have agreed the organisation’s role needs to be altered to reflect new global realities. But hang on a second, Thabo, don’t confuse the IMF with its sister institution, the World Bank, whose senior member states, including the US and Britain, caused a frisson the other day when they said that body needs to become more efficient in how it uses its resources, and must give more say to developing economies. Egyptian finance minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, who chairs the International Monetary and Financial Committee, says although the IMF’s role needs to be altered to reflect globalisation, and that it has developed new lending instruments, including one for emerging market economies, the core mandate of the IMF is to be a “central clearing house" that will help manage the global economy and ensure major economies coordinate policies to avoid crises. Alas, he also added that change won't be easy because some countries (aka the US and Britain, among others) feared losing too much power.

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