Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Friday, March 12, 2004

Africa calls for voice in IMF policy making

Developing countries -- the main clients of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank -- should have more say in the policy of those institutions.This was an opinion widely expressed on Friday at a meeting in Johannesburg of governors of African central banks and other finance officials.
Addressing a media briefing during a break in the conference proceedings, Burkina Faso's Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Campaore, said the unexpected resignation on March 4 of International Monetary Fund managing director Horst Koehler was an opportunity for developing countries in general, and Africa in particular, to "send a signal" about the importance of transparency and participation in choosing the leadership of the Bretton Woods institutions. Campaore said the new managing director should have advisers who understood Africa. Ivory Coast's Finance Minister Paul Bouabre said the world in 2004 was not the same as in 1944, when a conference was held at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA at which 45 countries agreed to set up the bank and the fund. He said there was a convention that the president of the World bank is an American, and the managing director of the IMF is a European, but this was not an actual rule. Whether the next managing director of the IMF was an African or not, he should take Africa's needs into consideration. Bouabre echoed Campaore's suggestion that the managing director have some African advisers, and suggested that a deputy managing director be from an African country. The Sudanese Finance Minister Zubair Ahmed Al-Hassan said the Johannesburg conference was not saying the next managing director must be an African. What they wanted was a more open and democratic selection process. South Africa's Deputy Finance Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa said "incremental progress" was being made towards reform of the world's financial system towards "a development agenda". He cited the UN Millennium Development Goals, the Monterrey conference on financing for development of 2002, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2003 as examples.Mpahlwa also said the bank and the fund should have the confidence of their major clients -- the developing countries of the world.(sapa)