1. Policy priorities. The Managing Director’s Global Policy Agenda (GPA) presented to the IMFC in April identified a range of actions needed to bolster today’s actual and tomorrow’s potential output, diminish risks, and confront emerging global challenges. These actions included calibrating fiscal adjustment to economic conditions while establishing credible long-term fiscal frameworks and implementing growth-friendly fiscal policies, improving monetary policy effectiveness while containing excessive financial risk-taking, and accelerating structural reforms to raise growth potential and ensure inclusiveness (Figure 1). The GPA also outlined how the Fund would support the membership through assessments and policy advice provided in the context of multilateral and bilateral surveillance, financial support, and capacity building.
2. Spring 2015 Work Program. This document translates the policy priorities laid out in the GPA and the IMFC communiqué into a work agenda for the Executive Board over the next 12 months. In particular, the Board will be engaged on several issues of multilateral scope, including quota reform and resources, the SDR basket review, challenges facing the international monetary system, and the post-2015 global development agenda. The work program also includes several items from the action plan of the 2014 Triennial Surveillance Review (TSR).
3. Implementation of the past work program. The Fall 2014 Work Program has been implemented broadly as planned. Additional Executive Board meetings were held to discuss the Fund’s response to the Ebola outbreak and preparations for the UN conferences on financing sustainable development. For some major policy items, informal meetings were scheduled ahead of formal discussions to enable an early engagement with Executive Directors. Most policy meetings were concluded on schedule, albeit a few encountered delays, mainly reflecting the need for more consultations with the membership to reach consensus but also competing work pressures.
4. Projected workload. The workload of the Executive Board in the next 12 months is expected to be broadly comparable to that of the Fall 2014 Work Program. Recently-approved streamlining initiatives are helping to focus Executive Board time on critical priorities (Box 1).
Impact of Streamlining Initiatives on the Work Program
In April, the Executive Board approved several streamlining initiatives to redirect resources to high priority tasks and new initiatives. The cross-cutting streamlining measures will also help reduce over time demands on the Executive Board:
There would be fewer program reviews by applying more systematically the presumption of semi-annual reviews for GRA arrangements.
Ex-post Assessments (EPA) will be abolished at the end of the year and replaced by a succinct, peer-reviewed assessment of the previous program in staff reports requesting a new program or the Article IV consultation following the program completion.
In multilateral surveillance, World Economic and Markets Updates will be streamlined by narrowing the country coverage of updates to focus on systemic economies. Consideration will be given to further efficiencies in this area as the global economy returns to normal.
The periodicity for most policy reviews will be lengthened to five years and for most moved to an “as needed” basis. Six to twelve months prior to a scheduled review, staff will assess whether the review is warranted or not, and bring its assessment to the attention of the Executive Board in the context of the Work Program discussion. In addition, some policy reviews will be merged and periodic Fund reports and operational reviews will be streamlined where possible and their periodicity lengthened.
The full impact of these changes on the Board calendar will only occur over time. However, there are some initial savings from the postponement of several lapse-of-time and for information items. Specifically, the Review of the Policy Support Instrument, previously due in 2015, will be incorporated into the next Review of Fund’s Facilities for Low-Income Countries due in 2018. The annual report on Long-Term Program Engagement will be discontinued and periodic reports on Delayed Article IV Consultations, Overdue Financial Obligations, Financing of the Fund’s Concessional Assistance, and Status of Voluntary SDR Trading Arrangements and SDR Designation Plan, among others, will occur at lower frequencies.