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IMFC Communiqué: World Finance Chiefs Endorse Action Plan to Counter Crisis

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
March 2009
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The International Monetary and Financial Committee held its eighteenth meeting in Washington, D.C. on October 11, 2008 under the Chairmanship of Youssef Boutros-Ghali, the Minister of Finance of Egypt. The Committee welcomes Dr. Boutros-Ghali, the new IMFC Chairman. The Committee expresses its deep gratitude to Mr. Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa for his invaluable role as the Committee’s Chairman in securing the membership’s support for critical IMF reforms, and extends its best wishes.

Yesterday, October 10, the G-7 met and agreed the following plan of action:

• “Take decisive action and use all available tools to support systemically important financial institutions and prevent their failure.

• Take all necessary steps to unfreeze credit and money markets and ensure that banks and other financial institutions have broad access to liquidity and funding.

• Ensure that our banks and other major financial intermediaries, as needed, can raise capital from public as well as private sources, in sufficient amounts to re-establish confidence and permit them to continue lending to households and businesses.

• Ensure that our respective national deposit insurance and guarantee programs are robust and consistent so that our retail depositors will continue to have confidence in the safety of their deposits.

• Take action, where appropriate, to restart the secondary markets for mortgages and other securitized assets. Accurate valuation and transparent disclosure of assets and consistent implementation of high quality accounting standards are necessary.

The actions should be taken in ways that protect taxpayers and avoid potentially damaging effects on other countries. We will use macroeconomic policy tools as necessary and appropriate. We strongly support the IMF’s critical role in assisting countries affected by this turmoil. We will accelerate full implementation of the Financial Stability Forum recommendations and we are committed to the pressing need for reform of the financial system. We will strengthen further our cooperation and work with others to accomplish this plan.”

Today the International Monetary and Financial Committee strongly endorsed the above commitments.

The Committee recognizes that the depth and systemic nature of the crisis call for exceptional vigilance, coordination, and readiness to take bold action. It underscores that the Fund has a critical mandate to foster the multilateral cooperation needed to restore and safeguard international monetary and financial stability. The Committee considers that, using its emergency procedures, the Fund stands ready to quickly make available substantial resources to help member countries cover financing needs. The Committee calls for further intensive Fund engagement across the membership to dis-cuss and develop robust policy responses to the crisis.

Moreover, the Committee notes that many emerging market economies, which have implemented sound policies in recent years, may experience spillover effects from the financial crisis. The difficult global financial environment, including elevated food and fuel prices, adds to the challenges for emerging market and developing countries to preserve macroeconomic stability, sustain growth, and make progress on poverty reduction. For these reasons, it is critically important that collaborative action be coordinated between advanced and emerging economies.

The Committee calls on the Fund—given its universal membership, core macro-financial expertise, and its mandate to promote international financial stability—to take the lead, in line with its mandate, in drawing the necessary policy lessons from the current crisis and recommending effective actions to restore confidence and stability. It asks the Fund to focus discussion, and enhance cooperation, with a wide range of perspectives with the FSF, the G-20, and others on this issue in an inclusive setting. The Committee asks the IMF to start this initiative immediately and to report to the IMFC at the latest at its next meeting.

The next regular meeting of the IMFC will be held in Washington, D.C., on April 25, 2009.

The following attachment summarizes the Committee’s discussion on other key points.

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Supporting Growth and Tackling Global Challenges

The Committee emphasizes that macroeconomic policies in the advanced economies need to provide essential stimulus in the face of the risk of a pronounced economic downturn, as confidence in the financial system is restored. Given the decline in commodity prices from their recent peaks and the expected slowing activity in many countries, policymakers should consider the most appropriate policy actions depending on national conditions. The Committee welcomes the recent coordinated monetary policy actions undertaken by several central banks. In a number of economies, fiscal policy has provided timely support to boost activity. Further fiscal initiatives should take account of medium-term consolidation objectives and, if undertaken, should give priority to dealing with financial problems. While macroeconomic policy priorities vary considerably across emerging market and developing economies, the Committee notes that the risk of a marked slowdown owing to financial market strains and sluggish export markets is becoming the primary concern for many of them. The Committee calls on the IMF to stand ready to assist members to prepare timely, effective, and appropriate policy responses to alleviate the impact of negative spillovers from the financial crisis.

The Committee is concerned that the progress made by low-income countries in achieving macroeconomic stability, fostering growth, and reducing poverty is being undermined by the adverse global environment. Many low-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, have been severely hit by higher food and fuel prices. The Committee calls on low-income countries to pursue strengthened adjustment efforts with increased donor assistance, in particular grants, to limit the effects on real income and poverty. The Committee welcomes the mission statement on low-income countries, and considers that the Fund should continue to play its part in the areas of its core expertise. The Committee welcomes the reforms to the Exogenous Shocks Facility, which allow it to be used more quickly and adequately.

The Committee notes the challenges posed by higher commodity prices in many countries, even though food and fuel prices have receded from their recent peaks. It recommends that shifts in international food and fuel prices be passed through to domestic markets, backed by targeted measures and adequate safety nets to protect the poor and taking into account country-specific circumstances.

Progress toward a more multilateral trading system has never been more important given risks to global growth. The Committee therefore calls on members to resist protectionist pressures, and reiterates its strong support for a prompt and ambitious conclusion of the Doha Development Round of trade negotiations.

The Committee emphasizes that it remains important to guard against global imbalances. The multilateral strategy for addressing global imbalances remains relevant, even though short-term measures will need to focus on stabilizing financial markets.

Advancing the IMF’s Surveillance Agenda

The Committee underscores the central role of Fund surveillance in providing clear, advance warning of risks, helping members understand the interdependence of their economies, and promoting globally consistent policy responses. The Committee takes note of the conclusion of the Triennial Surveillance Review, and endorses the Fund’s first Statement of Surveillance Priorities [see News Briefs, page 168].

The Committee calls on all members to work together cooperatively and with the Fund toward achieving the economic and operational objectives that it sets forth. The Committee calls on the Fund to press ahead with the enhanced early warning of risks and vulnerabilities, including through enhanced financial sector liaison, analysis of macro-financial linkages, and scenario analysis, and by completing the extension of its vulnerability exercise to advanced economies. The communication of these risks and vulnerabilities should be concise, authoritative, and timely, including through an enhanced World Economic Outlook and Global Financial Stability Report. Work should also be undertaken toward a reshaped Financial Sector Assessment Program that is better integrated with the Fund’s surveillance mandate, and embraces regional perspectives. The Committee looks forward to regular reporting by the Managing Director on the progress made against surveillance priorities.

Reviewing the IMF’s Lending Role

The Committee stresses that Fund financing has a critical role to play in giving confidence to members—subject to adequate safeguards—by helping them cope with the challenges of globalization in general and the current financial crisis in particular. It emphasizes that the Fund is ready to make full use of the flexibility already embodied in its lending instruments, particularly in the emergency procedures and provisions for exceptional access. But additional efforts are needed to review the Fund’s lending instruments, which might need to be adapted to the evolving needs of the membership. The Committee welcomes the ongoing review of the Fund’s lending role, and supports the plan to advance work in the following five areas: (i) reviewing the analytical framework for Fund lending and its coherence, including the scope for innovation in and streamlining of lending instruments, and exploring new modalities for Fund financing; (ii) creating a new liquidity instrument; (iii) re-examining Fund conditionality; (iv) reviewing the Fund’s lending facilities for low-income members; and (v) increasing access limits and financing terms for using Fund resources. The Committee urges the Executive Board to take this agenda forward expeditiously. The Committee strongly recommends that decisions be taken on an accelerated basis in those areas where there is strong consensus and particular urgency—such as the establishment of a new liquidity instrument—and on the full range of issues by the time of the 2009 Annual Meetings.

The Santiago Principles—Generally Accepted Principles and Practices for Sovereign Wealth Funds

The Committee welcomes the development of the Santiago Principles by the International Working Group of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs). The Principles represent a collaborative effort by SWFs from across advanced, emerging, and developing country economies to set out a comprehensive framework, providing a clearer understanding of the operations of SWFs. Their adoption on a voluntary basis signals strong commitment to the Principles and their implementation should further enhance the stabilizing role played by SWFs in the financial markets, and help maintain the free flow of cross-border investment. The Committee welcomes the intention of the International Working Group to consider establishing a Standing Group to keep the Principles under review and explore the scope for collecting and disseminating aggregated information on SWF operations. It emphasizes that continued Fund support, if requested, should be consistent with budgetary constraints. The Committee also stresses the importance of clear and nondiscriminatory policies by recipient countries toward SWF investments. It looks forward to the completion of the work of the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] in this area, and encourages continued dialogue and coordination between the OECD and SWFs.

Other Issues

The Committee welcomes the approval by the Board of Governors of the Resolution on quota and voice reforms, including the amendment of the Fund’s Articles of Agreement to enhance voice and participation in the Fund. It notes that this is an important first step toward a realignment of members’ quota and voting shares. These realignments are expected to result in increases in the quota shares of dynamic economies, and hence in the share of emerging market and developing economies as a whole. The Committee also looks forward to further work by the Executive Board on elements of the new quota formula that can be improved before the formula is used again. The Committee also welcomes the approval of the amendment broadening the Fund’s investment authority as part of the Fund’s new income model. The Committee urgently calls on all members to work toward the early completion of the domestic legislative steps required for making the quota and voice reforms and the Fund’s new income model effective.

The Committee recommends members’ acceptance of the amendment of the Articles of Agreement for a special onetime allocation of SDRs.

The Committee welcomes the ongoing re-assessment of the Fund’s governance. This involves the follow-up by the Fund’s Executive Board to the Independent Evaluation Office’s Evaluation of Aspects of IMF Corporate Governance; the work of the committee of eminent persons on IMF governance reform, chaired by Mr. Trevor Manuel; and the engagement of civil society and other concerned audiences. The Committee underscores that governance reforms will require joint and collaborative efforts by all organs of the Fund. It looks forward to a progress report at its next meeting.

Boutros-Ghali Is First IMFC Head from an emerging economy

Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali has been selected as the new Chair of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, which sets the IMF’s political direction and overall policy priorities.

Boutros-Ghali served as IMFC Chair at this year’s IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings held in Washington, D.C., from October 10–13. He has accepted the IMFC chairmanship for a term of up to three years.

Boutros-Ghali is the first IMFC head from an emerging market or developing country, succeeding former Italian Finance Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, who resigned in May.

“I hope that it will be easier for emerging market economies to be heard because I am chairman of the IMFC,” Boutros-Ghali said, noting the increasingly important role that emerging economies play in the world today.

Boutros-Ghali has been a member of the Egyptian government since 1993. Prior to becoming Minister of Finance in July 2004, he held a range of ministerial positions in the areas of international cooperation, economic affairs, and foreign trade. Boutros-Ghali has an intimate knowledge and first-hand experience of the Fund and its relations with member countries, both as a former IMF staff member and as chief negotiator of Egypt’s fundamental reform programs implemented with IMF support in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The 24-member IMFC typically comprises finance ministers and central bank governors from the same countries and constituencies as are represented on the IMF’s Executive Board. The panel has operated since September 30, 1999, following a resolution of the IMF Board of Governors.

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