Global Policy Forum

Spotlight on IMF Appointment

The parliamentary committee chaired with replacing IMF director Dominique Strauss Kahn has indicated that it might break with tradition by appointing a candidate from the developing world rather than one from Europe. This divergence may indicate an effort to “modernize” the IMF. Furthermore, officials say they will try to incorporate the G20’s wishes for reform that were voiced in the 2009 Pittsburgh Summit Agreement, by highlighting meritocracy and diversity in leadership.

By Donwald Pressly

June 14, 2011

The standing committee on finance took the unusual step of urging the cabinet to give the matter of the pending appointment of a replacement for International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Dominique Strauss Kahn “the serious attention it deserves”.

The premier parliamentary committee, chaired by ANC MP Thaba Mufamadi, issued a statement last week after Treasury presented its strategic plan to MPs, including the finance front-benches of all the political parties represented in Parliament.

It is a strongly-worded statement that all but gave former finance minister Trevor Manuel its backing for his candidacy for the post.

The committee, which includes DA shadow finance minister Dion George, and Cope’s finance spokesman Nick Koornhof, said the government should give “this matter the serious attention it deserves”.

This follows a lacklustre statement nearly two weeks ago, in which the cabinet gave general support to a developing world candidate – avoiding mention of Manuel.

The committee said through parliamentary spokeswoman Yoliswa Landu: “We believe that developing countries have the ability to put forward candidates who have the appropriate merit and experience.”

“The government on behalf of all South Africans must pronounce its interest in the matter and start lobbying all relevant stakeholders to support the candidate of its choice.”

Among the issues raised by Treasury through Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the committee noted, was the “much publicised” resignation of Strauss Kahn, who is accused of sexual impropriety.

“In its deliberations, the committee took into consideration the G20 (Group of 20) Pittsburgh Summit Agreement of September 2009, which placed the modernisation of the IMF governance structure at the core of its credibility, legitimacy and effectiveness.”

The G20 leaders – including President Jacob Zuma – “further agreed that a comprehensive reform package should include staff diversity and that the heads and senior leadership of all international institutions should be appointed through an open, transparent and merit-based process”.

The parliamentary committee resolved that the government should “timeously” inform Parliament on the progress regarding this matter.

Iraj Abedian, the Pan African chief executive, said his reading of developments on the job were that Gordhan had been given the responsibility to champion this matter and to liaise with other finance ministers from the Bric (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries.

“He (Gordhan) has been vocal about a more transparent criteria drive process (of selection). In doing so, he has been fairly implicit in his championing of Manuel. He wants to get the process right.”

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said in response to a question whether his government wanted a Bric representative to have the number two job at the IMF, that it was a matter of principle, Bloomberg reported.

“The IMF is under a continued reform process… The entire thrust of the reform is to give more voice to the countries, to the emerging economies.

“And for the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries to have a position of a deputy executive director, I think, is a very logical request as it was considered as very legitimate by all the participants of the (Group of 8).” - Donwald Pressly


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