Let me welcome all of you to Singapore. We are honored to be the hosts for this year’s Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. We hope that the Singapore Meetings will mark another milestone in our collective efforts to promote sustained global growth and lift our people out of poverty.
Distinguished Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Managing Director de Rato, President Wolfowitz, fellow Governors, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome you all to the 2006 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group. It is a great honor for my country, Guyana, to chair these meetings.
Mr. Chairman, Governors, and distinguished guests, I am pleased to join you for the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group. I would like to extend a special thanks to the Government and people of Singapore for hosting us and for their hard work in organizing this meeting, and to the Chairman of the Development Committee, Alberto Carrasquilla, for leading our important discussions.
One of the core responsibilities of the International Monetary Fund is to maintain a dialogue with its member countries on the national and international consequences of their economic and financial policies. This process of monitoring and consultation, referred to as surveillance, is mandated under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement and lies at the heart of the Fund’s efforts to prevent crises.
The growing integration of the world economy in recent decades has brought substantial benefits to the IMF’s member countries. But this economic interdependence has also created new challenges, as demonstrated by the financial crises of the 1980s and 1990s. The IMF has responded to these challenges, in part, by strengthening its framework for, and enhancing the content of, surveillance—its foremost means of helping countries avert crises. Surveillance allows the Fund, working with its member countries, to identify economic and financial policy strengths and weaknesses and vulnerabilities that could lead to crises and to formulate policy actions that can safeguard stability. And, given the potential for national crises to spill over to other countries in today’s global economy, surveillance is a means for the Fund to fulfill its mandate of promoting international economic and financial stability.
Providing financial support under adequate safeguards to member countries with balance of payments difficulties is one of the IMF’s main responsibilities. In a time of increasing and volatile capital flows, the Fund continues to seek better ways of bolstering members’ efforts to adjust to adverse circumstances, restore a viable balance of payments, implement reforms, and strengthen growth.
The IMF’s goal in low-income countries is to help them achieve deep and lasting poverty reduction through policies that promote growth, generate employment, and target assistance to the poor. This aim is consistent with the IMF’s mandate to “contribute … to the promotion and maintenance of high levels of employment and real income and to the development of the productive resources of all members as primary objectives of economic policy.”1 The Fund pursues this goal in close collaboration with other development partners—particularly the World Bank. In doing so, the IMF focuses on its core areas of responsibility and expertise, namely, helping member countries achieve stable macroeconomic conditions by providing them with policy advice supported by financial and technical assistance.
Designing and implementing economic policy require know-how and effective government institutions. Many developing countries need help to build up expertise in economic management and advice about what policies, reforms, and institutional arrangements are appropriate and have worked well elsewhere. The IMF provides such technical advice and training to officials in member countries. Poor countries receive this assistance free of charge.