Abstract

The author-a top decision maker at the IMF for two decades-first focuses on the system of quotas and voting power in the IMF and concludes that it calls for reforms to enhance equity among the membership. He then examines decision making in the Executive Board, with an emphasis on consensus building in a cooperative institution, and the record of political oversight of the international monetary system through the Interim Committee and its successor, the International Monetary and Financial Committee. In that context, the author also comments on the impact on IMF decision making of the activities of groups of members, and of the differing interests of major shareholders. Thereafter, he recalls the distinctive features of the financial crises of the 1990s and examines their evolving implications for IMF governance. The essay concludes with an appraisal of IMF governance.

Appendix I. Voting Majorities in the IMF

The IMF operates on the basis of weighted voting power of its members. Ordinarily, decisions require a simple majority of the votes cast but special majorities are needed for certain decisions as specified in the Articles of Agreement. The original Articles required special majorities for 9 categories of decisions. In the first amendment, that number rose to 21 and in the second amendment it more than doubled again to over 50. At the same time, the number of special majorities was simplified and reduced to two: 70 percent and 85 percent. The third amendment added one category of special voting majority.

The increased prescription of special voting majorities was supported on the argument that the expanded responsibilities of the IMF required that important policy decisions should command very wide support. However, it also heightened the concern that it would become very difficult to garner the necessary consensus to take major decisions, such as the 85 percent majorities required to approve quota increases, to allocate SDRs, to establish the Council, and other matters. At the same time, it reflected the insistence not only of the United States and of Europe but also, for example, of a group of developing countries to be able to protect their interests through the veto power.

The need for flexibility in the management of the international monetary system following the breakdown of the par value rule led to increased use of “enabling powers” that required special majorities. The novelty of certain provisions was also seen as justifying special voting majorities, such as for several decisions relating to the SDR regime or for sales of gold by the IMF.

Several decisions subject to special majorities can be expected to be taken only in exceptional circumstances—for example, the enforcement of pressures on a member, the suspension of voting rights, and the compulsory withdrawal.

While the Board of Governors has made the maximum delegation of authority to the Executive Board, there remain 13 categories of decisions—most of them relating to adjustment of quotas, to allocation or cancellation of SDRs, to the Council, and to the size of the Executive Board—that cannot be delegated to the Executive Board and nearly all of which require 85 percent of the total voting power. Of the more than 40 categories of decisions requiring special voting majorities that can be taken by the Executive Board, 16 require 85 percent of the total voting power. Most of the remaining categories of decisions relate to financial and operational issues for which the 70 percent majority of the voting power was justified in order to safeguard interests of both debtors and creditors.

Appendix II. IMF Executive Directors and Voting Power

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Voting power varies on certain matters pertaining to the General Department with use of the IMF’s resources in that Department.

Percentages of total votes 2,166,739 in the General Department and the Special Drawing Rights Department.

This total does not include the votes of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which did not participate in the 2000 Regular Election of Executive Directors. The total votes of these members is 7,073—0.33 percent of those in the General Department and Special Drawing Rights Department.

This total does not include the votes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which were suspended effective June 2, 1994 pursuant to Article XXVI, Section 2(b) of the Articles of Agreement. The Democratic Republic of the Congo cleared its overdue obligations to the IMF in June 2002.

This figure may differ from the sum of the percentages shown for individual Directors because of rounding.

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2

Access policies on the use of IMF resources are reviewed annually. During most of the 1990s, the net cumulative access limit in terms of a member’s quota has been 300 percent. The provision for higher “exceptional” access, which was used on several occasions during the financial crises of the past decade, was abolished in the context of the latest review of the IMF’s financing facilities (see Section VII).

3

The Executive Board rejected the recommendations of the Quota Formula Review Group because, counterproductively, they would have meant a further increase in the quota share of the industrial countries.

4

The proposed enlargement of the European Union by an additional 10 countries to a total of 25, through the accession of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia would further raise the EU’s aggregate voting power by 2.8 percent to 32.8 percent.

5

The General Arrangements to Borrow were set up in 1962 by the Group of 10 industrial countries (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and, later, Switzerland).

6

The role of the World Bank’s Executive Board has been more limited because its charter did not confer on that institution powers that impinge on the sovereignty of its member states. In the chapter on governance in the World Bank history (Kapur, Lewis, and Webb, 1997, Volume I), Devesh Kapur barely mentions the Bank’s Executive Board.

7

Following the promulgation of a Code of Conduct for the staff in 1998, the Executive Board adopted a similar code for itself in 2000, including the same financial disclosure requirements as for senior staff, and set up an Ethics Committee to examine issues as necessary and report to the Board for disposition.

8

The Western European presence in the Board grows to nine Executive Directors when Spain holds that position in the Latin American constituency that it shares with Mexico, Venezuela, and the Central American countries.

9

A new country, East Timor, applied for membership in March 2002.

10

In addition to repayments of the 1976 Trust Fund loans, which had been financed by a share of Fund gold sales for the benefit of developing countries (see also Section VI).

11

The Democratic Republic of the Congo cleared its overdue obligations to the IMF in June 2002.

12

Board consideration of operational matters, financial issues, requests for use of IMF resources, and other matters is concluded, as needed, with formal decisions for which drafts are provided by the Fund’s legal department. The relevant decisions are published with commentary in the IMF’s Annual Report and are periodically reprinted in the Compendium on Legal Decisions.

13

The activities of the Group of 10 industrial countries have taken a lower profile since the mid-1970s. The Deputies of the Group of 10 continue to make a valuable contribution with the preparation of special studies on systemic issues. IMF management and staff participate in the activities of the Group of 10.

14

The Development Committee (the Joint Bank-Fund Committee on the Transfer of Real Resources to Developing Countries) was set up at the same time as the Interim Committee in 1974. Closer examination of Development Committee issues falls outside the scope of this pamphlet.

15

The African, Asian, and Latin American regions each appointed eight members of the Group of 24, at the ministerial and deputy levels, with a rotating chairmanship of the group. The Managing Director and staff participate in the group’s meetings.

16

France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in the 1975 summit; Canada was included in 1976 and the President of the European Commission in 1977. The G-5 Finance Ministers continued to meet separately until after the 1987 Louvre Summit.

17

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey.

19

The IMF’s task in protecting the integrity of the international monetary system requires it also to assess the standards of supervision of offshore financial centers and to involve itself in the financial aspects of money laundering.

20

The guidelines can be found on the IMF’s external website: www.imf.org.

21

The IMF has developed the Data Dissemination Standard (DDS), the Code of Good Practices in Fiscal Transparency, and the Code of Good Practices on Transparency in Monetary and Financial Policies. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision leads on the Capital Accord and on the Core Principles of Banking Supervision, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) on Securities Markets, and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) on the insurance sector. The World Bank leads on the implementation of standards on corporate governance (which were developed by the OECD) and on Accounting/Auditing (for which standards were developed by the respective international associations). The Bank and the IMF collaborate on Reports on Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSCs).

22

An amendment of the Articles of Agreement becomes binding on all member countries as soon as the required majority of 85 percent of the total voting power in the IMF has been achieved.

23

The NAB were concluded in 1998 with the GAB countries (see footnote 5 on page 12) and other countries that were deemed financially strong to lend resources to the IMF. The additional countries included Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Together, the 25 participants in the NAB were ready to lend up to SDR 34 billion under the old and new arrangements together.

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND PAMPHLET SERIES

(All pamphlets have been published in English, French, and Spanish, unless otherwise stated)

45. Financial Organization and Operations of the IMF, by the Treasurer’s Department. Sixth edition, 2001. Third edition also in Russian.

46. The Unique Nature of the Responsibilities of the International Monetary Fund, by Manuel Guitián. 1992.

47. Social Dimensions of the IMF’s Policy Dialogue, by the staff of the IMF. 1995.

48. Unproductive Public Expenditures: A Pragmatic Approach to Policy Analysis, by the Fiscal Affairs Department. 1995.

49. Guidelines for Fiscal Adjustment, by the Fiscal Affairs Department. 1995.

50. The Role of the IMF: Financing and Its Interactions with Adjustment and Surveillance, by Paul R. Masson and Michael Mussa. 1995.

51. Debt Relief for Low-Income Countries: The Enhanced HIPC Initiative, by David Andrews, Anthony R. Boote, Syed S. Rizavi, and Sukhwinder Singh. Revised 1999.

52. The IMF and the Poor, by the Fiscal Affairs Department. 1998.

53. Governance of the IMF: Decision Making, Institutional Oversight, Transparency, and Accountability, by Leo Van Houtven. 2002.

54. Fiscal Dimensions of Sustainable Development, by the Fiscal Affairs Department. 2002.

Photographic or microfilm copies of all English editions, including numbers that are out of print, may be purchased direct from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, U.S.A. or from Information Publications International, White Swan House, Godstone, Surrey, RH9 8LW, England.

Copies of these pamphlets and information on earlier issues in the IMF Pamphlet Series may be obtained from:

International Monetary Fund, Publication Services

700 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20431, U.S.A.

Telephone number: (202) 623-6430

Telefax number: (202) 623-7201

Internet: publications@imf.org

Decision Making, Institutional Oversight, Transparency and Accountability
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    • Export Citation
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    • Export Citation
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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ghosh, Atish, Timothy Lane, Marianne Schulze-Ghattas, Ales Bulír, Javier Hamann and Alex Mourmouras, 2002, IMF-Supported Programs in Capital Account Crises, IMF Occasional Paper No. 210 (Washington: IMF).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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    • Export Citation
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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Haldane, Andy, and Mark Kruger, 2001, “The Resolution of International Financial Crises: Private Financing and Public Funds,Bank of Canada Working Paper No. 20 (Ottawa: Bank of Canada).

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    • Export Citation
  • Helleiner, Gerald K., 2001, “Markets, Politics and Globalization: Can the Global Economy Be Civilized?Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, Vol. 7 (July-September), pp. 24363.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Henning, C. Randall, 1992, “The Group of Twenty-Four: Two Decades of Monetary and Financial Cooperation among Developing Countries,in International Monetary and Financial Issues for the 1990s, Vol. I (Geneva: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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    • Export Citation
  • International Monetary Fund, 1995-2000, Annual Report (Washington).

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    • Export Citation
  • James, Harold, 1998, “From Grandmotherliness to Governance: The Evolution of IMF Conditionality,” Finance & Development, Vol. 35 (December), pp. 4447.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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    • Export Citation
  • Kapur, Devesh, John P. Lewis, and Richard Webb, 1997, The World Bank: Its First Half Century, Vol. I (Washington: Brookings Institution).

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