In March 2002, the industrial countries committed themselves—under the Monterrey Consensus—to increasing the voice and participation of the developing countries in the World Bank and the IMF. But, according to Ariel Buira (Director of the Group of 24 Secretariat and former IMF Executive Board Director) and his coauthors of the recently published book—Challenges to the World Bank and the IMF: Developing Country Perspectives—industrial countries are not keeping their promise. At a February 5 IMF Book Forum, moderated by Thomas Dawson (Director of the IMF’s External Relations Department), Buira, joined by Carol Welch (Director of the International Program at Friends of the Earth), took a closer look at these issues.
Developing countries account for a growing share of the world’s output and trade, and newly industrializing countries have become major economic players, but they have yet to see their growing economic clout reflected in their representation in the IMF, Ariel Buira said. He and his coauthors argue that the governance of the IMF does not meet the standards of transparency, accountability, and legitimacy that it prescribes to member countries. This is troubling, he noted, because “with resources of over $300 billion, the IMF may well be the most important international institution, at least for most developing countries.”
Given the IMF’s great influence, two questions on the quality of its own governance arise: how to attain adequate voice and representation for all members in the institution’s decision-making process and whether the IMF meets the standards of transparency and accountability needed to ensure the legitimacy of its decisions, the ownership by member countries of the programs it supports, and the proper use of the public resources at its disposal.