Mr. Chairman, Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. de Rato, fellow Governors, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen: it is a great honor for Algeria to accept the chairmanship of the Boards of Governors for the year ahead. Fellow Governors, first and foremost, please join me in thanking His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo for the remarkable manner in which he conducted these meetings.
This year, we addressed a number of important issues, including questions relating to growth and financial stability, the importance of good governance for development, stepping up cooperation with the middle-income countries, as well as issues pertaining to strengthening the voice and participation of the developing countries in the international financial institutions. The robust growth rates observed are indicative of a good outlook for the year ahead. However, there are still major problems, including inequalities in growth and poverty reduction from country to country and across regions, global trade imbalances, as well as armed conflicts and global security threats. These problems pose a risk to the sustainability of this growth. We hope that the assessment of these risks will serve as a powerful incentive for fighting poverty with renewed commitment and for promoting development while adhering to responsive economic and social policies which bolster growth and preserve macroeconomic stability.
We welcome the debt relief provided under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative and the Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, but nevertheless urge the international community to step up its support and coordinate its efforts aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. We also welcome the initiatives geared toward enhancing the voice of all members of the Bretton Woods Institutions and look forward to the additional changes planned for the near future.
Fellow Governors, allow me here and now, on behalf of us all, to express our appreciation to the staffs of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for their hard work and dedication under the strong leadership of Mr. Wolfowitz and Mr. de Rato. We have entrusted our institutions with the tasks of contributing to poverty reduction, sustainable development, growth, and stability. We all are grateful for their past achievements in these areas and must continue to extend our full support to them.
Please allow me also to express our gratitude and deep appreciation to our hosts, the people and the government of Singapore, for the remarkable organization of these Meetings and for their exceptional hospitality.
Fellow Governors, I look forward to working with all of you on the important agenda we have outlined here and to seeing all of you at our Annual Meetings next year in Washington, D.C.
Concluding Remarks by the Chairman of the Executive Board and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
Rodrigo de Rato y Figaredo
Mr. Chairman, Governors, honored guests, we have had a busy few days and I will not speak at length. In fact, at this point, I would just like to say a few words about what we have achieved at these meetings, and then say “thank you” to many people. Let me begin with what we have achieved.
We have discussed the prospects of and risks to the global economy, and also how the institution can become more responsive to members’ needs. There is a common understanding that the global economy offers opportunities, but also an understanding that there are risks that threaten these opportunities. Governors have welcomed the Fund’s role in addressing these risks and challenges: through multilateral surveillance, Multilateral Consultations and other instruments. I think there is also a common view that the Fund has to refine its instruments to help members face changes in the financial environment that could threaten some of the achievements of recent years. The Fund must also deepen its analysis and knowledge of the interrelationships between the financial markets and the real economies in all of your countries.
Many Governors joined me in falling for more progress in trade negotiations. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong put this concern very well when he said yesterday, “A rising tide of protectionism will leave us all worse off. It has happened before; it can happen again.” I hope this message goes out loud and clear to trade negotiators, to political leaders, and to citizens. So I am pleased that many governors have joined me in urging action to conserve the gains made in negotiations so far and put the Doha Round back on track.
We have also discussed the Fund’s reform program, set out in the Medium-Term Strategy. Again, I have been very pleased by the support received from colleagues. And of course I am delighted by the overwhelming vote of our Board of Governors to support reform of quotas and voice. I want to thank again all of the governors who supported this important reform. As Governor Chidambaram of India and Governor Mantega of Brazil said, it is clear that there are a lot of challenges ahead of us. But there is also a good understanding that multilateralism is at the heart of our efforts in responding to members’ needs and challenges. I understand very well that this week’s vote is not the end of our work on quotas, but the beginning of a process that will continue during the next year. And I reiterate my personal commitment to reach out to all of our members, so that the agenda of reform can be advanced.
I would like to thank the authorities of Singapore for hosting these meetings. These have been very effective and well-managed meetings, and I want to thank the authorities of Singapore for all of their efforts in this respect. I also want to thank the people of Singapore for their hospitality, and for their patience with us visitors. I have seen many thousands of smiles over the past week. I have been touched by the unfailing courtesy, helpfulness and kindness of everyone. I have known for a long time that Singapore was a city of enterprising and hardworking people. I have found out this week that it is also a great city for friendship.
I also want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the Bank and Fund Secretaries, for your direction of these meetings, and also to thank my friend Paul Wolfowitz for his leadership on the very important discussions regarding the Bank. Hundreds of staff of the Fund and the World Bank have made this event possible. Thank you to those who have briefed me and my colleagues for many meetings. To those who have typed and translated and organized schedules. To those who have worked with the media and with civil society organizations to ensure that the benefits of these meetings can be spread as widely as possible. I also want to thank all the members of civil society and NGOs for their participation in these meetings and underline the importance that we attach to outreach to civil society not only during the annual Meetings but throughout the year. I look forward to developing this outreach further in future meetings of our institutions. And I must reserve the highest praise and the deepest appreciation for the staff of the Bank-Fund Conferences Office and the Joint Secretariat, who have been preparing for these meetings for months and in some cases years.
The leader of the Bank-Fund Conferences Office is Pat Davies, who is retiring after this year’s meetings. In this position, Pat has always been cheerful and calm, always gracious and graceful, no matter what is going on around her. In addition to organizing meetings in Washington, Pat has made Annual Meetings run smoothly in Hong Kong, in Prague, in Dubai and now here in Singapore. I am sure that Pat will be relieved to be staying in Washington for a while now—and to viewing the organization of future Annual Meetings from more of a distance. But I expect she will keep busy. I know she is very active in supporting and working with an orphanage in Uganda for children whose parents have died of AIDS. That shows her commitment to the deepest purposes of the institution. Pat, thank you for all you have done, this year, and for many years.
Governors, I look forward to seeing you again in Washington, where we will hold both the spring meetings and also the next Annual Meetings, in October 2007. Thank you for everything that you have done. Thank you very much for your commitment to the institution, and I wish you a very safe trip home.
Concluding Remarks by The Chairman of the Boards of Governors and The Governor of the Fund and the Bank for Guyana
My fellow Governors, we have had full and productive Annual Meetings. Allow me to reflect on the salient issues of our deliberations here in Singapore.
First, these Annual Meetings will be remembered for many important decisions, but foremost among them is the agreement we reached on a comprehensive two-year program of IMF quota and voice reforms. These reforms will make significant progress in realigning quota shares with members’ relative positions in the world economy and in enhancing the participation and voice of low-income countries in the IMF.
Second, even as the global economic expansion continues to be strong and broad-based, there is a need to be prepared for a more challenging global environment, including the likely transition to higher inflation and tighter liquidity conditions. It is also crucial to reduce global imbalances while sustaining global growth. In this regard, we called for sustained and timely action for an orderly unwinding of global imbalances. The multilateral consultation by the IMF provides the platform for a joint, cooperative approach. We underscored the importance of multilateral trade liberalization for strengthening the foundations of global growth. We therefore urged all WTO members to maintain their commitment to the rules-based multilateral trading system, resist protectionist calls, and preserve the progress that has already been made. We were reminded that the Doha round of negotiations is a development round and as such priority must be given to the issues of the developing world. The leadership of the major trading countries in reviving the trade negotiations is crucial. We also called on the IMF and the World Bank to continue their global advocacy role on trade and development, and to foster the integration of trade into country programs.
Third, we supported the IMF’s and the World Bank’s efforts to better assist their emerging market and middle-income country members. Steps to put financial and capital markets issues at the center of the two institutions’ work in these countries are important. The IMF’s work on the design features of a new liquidity instrument for emerging market countries that are active in international capital markets should move apace. We also supported the World Bank’s mission to eradicate poverty in its engagement with middle-income countries, where 70 percent of the world’s poor live. Its proposals to deliver better and more flexible country partnership strategies, reduce the cost of doing business with the Bank, and develop new ways to help countries facing external shocks are steps in the right direction.
Fourth, we urged the IMF and the World Bank to enhance the effectiveness of their work in low-income countries by focusing on sustainable growth and macro-critical areas that support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. We underscored the importance of helping countries reap the benefits of higher aid and debt relief, and avoid a new build-up of unsustainable debt. The international commitments to improve aid effectiveness must be translated into action.
Finally, we emphasized that actions to promote good governance and fight corruption are crucial to successful development and poverty reduction and the achievement of the MDGs. We encouraged the World Bank to assist states to better deliver services to the poor, promote private sector-led growth, and tackle corruption effectively, noting that governments are the key partners of the Bank in governance and anticorruption programs.
My fellow Governors, it has been an honor to serve as Chairman of this year’s Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank Group. In closing, allow me to thank you all for your support and cooperation. I believe that we have accomplished much during these meetings. I wish to thank Mr. de Rato and Mr. Wolfowitz for their able leadership of the Bretton Woods Institutions, and the staff of our two institutions for their hard work. I also wish to pay tribute to former First Deputy Managing Director Anne Krueger for her service and dedication.
I also thank Mr. Anjaria and Mr. Ofosu-Amaah and the staff of the Joint Secretariat for the excellent arrangements for the meetings. I wish, in particular, to thank Ms. Patricia Davies, who is retiring after years of leading the Joint Secretariat team in organizing our meetings. I would also like to extend our appreciation to the Singapore government and the Singaporean people for their warm hospitality.
Finally, let me welcome and congratulate the Minister from Algeria, who will succeed me as Chairman of the Annual Meetings.
This concludes the 2006 Annual Meetings. I wish everyone safe travels home. I look forward to seeing you all again next year in Washington, DC.