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Fw: Infosdebitarsi 20 aprile 2005: Notizie sugli spring meetings Banca Mondiale e Fondo Monetario

Infosdebitarsi 20 aprile 2005: Notizie sugli spring meetings Banca Mondiale
e Fondo Monetario
Inviamo commenti e notizie diffuse dalla rete europea Eurodad sull'esito
degli Spring meetings della Banca Mondiale e del Fondo Monetario
Appena possibile invieremo il testo tradotto in italiano.
buona lettura,
raffaella chiodo



·         Low-Down on Debt: 2005 World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings

Multilateral Debt: Little Progress at Spring Meetings

Ministers at the 2005 World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings in Washington
failed to agree a deal on debt relief. There were mixed signals on whether
a deal moved closer or further away, with some arguing that the positions
of G7 Ministers were becoming increasingly entrenched, while others hinted
that a possible path to a compromise was becoming visible.

At the heart of the debate is whether rich governments should put in extra
cash to ensure that poor countries can have debt cancellation AND continued
aid flows. The United States is pushing for a deal which would reduce the
amount that the World Bank, IMF and African Development Fund could make
available to poorer countries. The US government, and a number of US civil
society groups, argue that this is the only deal that the US government can
offer - partly because of its ideological vision and partly because it is
Congress, not the Administration which can make aid pledges. Debt relief is
much more popular and easy to achieve on Capitol Hill than aid increases.

European governments and many NGOs and other governments - including in
Africa - would prefer a debt relief approach which involves additional
financing. Otherwise, they argue, poor countries will be penalised with
reduced aid in exchange for getting debt relief.  The G7 Finance Ministers'
statement last weekend stated: "We made progress in preparation for the
[G8] Gleneagles Summit, including on a case-by-case analysis of HIPC
(Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) countries, based on our willingness to
provide as much as 100 percent reduction of HIPC countries' International
Development Association and African Fund debt without reducing the
resources available to the poorest countries through these institutions".

One way people had been hoping to break this deadlock was to agree
financing options that would have no impact on existing pots of money that
are set aside for low-income countries. The most promising one, urged by
Eurodad and many other NGOs, is the unused and massively undervalued IMF
gold reserves.

A March IMF report, the British government and others support the sale of
the gold. Last weekend we learned that the United States government is
opposed. Treasury Secretary John Snow said "we are not persuaded by
arguments for IMF debt relief, and we do not believe market or "off-market"
gold sales are necessary or warranted." In addition, an influential
Republican Congressman has been arguing that IMF gold was originally a
donation and should therefore not be used to cancel developing country debt
but should instead be returned to the countries that donated it.

Snow said the United States was not currently focusing on debts owed to the
IMF, but only on those owed to the World Bank and the African Development
Fund which, he argues, hold most of the poor nations' debt. This means that
the US appears to have stopped pushing to use resources from the IMF's
Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, and potentially to wind down that
facility entirely.

Another way to view the question of additionality is that the volume of
money in the aid system - including in the multilaterals - is anyway
increasing substantially at the moment and so dollar transfers will
continue to grow even after a debt relief deal which takes some resources
from these countries. Yet a further option is to secure additional
resources for developing countries through some kind of global taxation -
for example on air fuel as the French government and others have proposed.
No progress was made on this in the last week.

One set of positions is certainly clear: that of senior figures in the
World Bank and IMF. As in any bureaucracy they are not keen to see their
budget diminish. Outgoing World Bank President James Wolfensohn reiterated
his opposition to the US approach, ''as managers, you have to expect us to
fight tooth and nail.''

There was speculation in some civil society circles in the last few days
that the US may be playing a hard bargaining line and that if other G7
countries show some flexibility in their current demands for pure
additionality, then a deal may be able to be struck by the Gleneagles G7
Summit in early July.

Next week Eurodad will issue a more detailed analysis - including a
breakdown of the money available from the key financing options.

Other NGO Reports of Spring Meetings

G7 finance ministers' meeting: "looking forward to further discussion"
No breakthroughs were made on the key issue of multilateral debt
cancellation, with finance ministers saying only that they had "made
progress in preparation for the Gleneagles G7 summit" in July. On the
possibility of IMF gold sales to fund the write-off of debts owed to the
Fund, only that the ministers "look forward to discussing this with the
full membership". Similarly, on so-called 'innovative sources of finance'
such as currency transaction taxes and the international financing
facility, no progress.

IMFC: "bold actions are urgently needed" - none to be found
The UK proposal to use IMF gold sales to fund debt relief appears to have
been killed off by US Treasury Secretary John Snow. Swiss finance minister
Hans-Rudolf Merz also came out vocally against the sale of gold. On the
issue of how to finance the cancellation of debts owed to the World Bank,
Snow said "it's clear that others are coming round to Washington's view"
(of using the institutions own resources to cancel debts rather than
seeking new resources from rich countries). Stephen Rand of Jubilee Debt
Campaign was in disbelief: "the urgency of the crisis should prompt
decisive action. The clock is still ticking. Children are still dying."

On trade, the IMFC wants "ambitious results" from the Doha round "notably
in agriculture" and "liberalisation in financial and other services". It
encourages the IMF to "work with other partners in the Integrated Framework
to explore further ways of easing adjustment to trade liberalization,
including through the Trade Integration Mechanism".

On the strategic review of the IMF's role, there are calls for further work
on improving surveillance, and financial sector assessment is to be more
integrated into surveillance efforts including capital account
liberalisation. This directly contradicts calls from southern country
ministers that "the extension of the Fund's mandate to include capital
account transactions is not necessary", and revives the spectre of a Fund
mandate to push capital account liberalisation on developing countries,
which many blame for the onset of the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

On improving the 'democratic deficit' at the IMF, there was no progress.
There are hopes that the next quota review at the annual meetings will
provide an opportunity for the membership to make progress on quotas,
voice, and participation. That's been heard before. "The current system of
governance is completely out of line with economic realities," said Ariel
Buira, director of the G24 secretariat of developing country finance
minister. "What is happening is that many countries are now moving away
from these institutions." Reinforcing Buira's point were comments from
Japanese finance minister Sadakazu Tanigaki who said a review of Asia's IMF
quotas was necessary.

On IMF work in low-income countries, calls for an improvement in the
alignment of the Fund's lending vehicle with national development
strategies, the development of a monitoring arrangement for non-borrowing
countries and calls for increased support to help countries weather
macroeconomic shocks. No mention in the communiqué of the call from the
Algerian executive director that the programme monitoring arrangement
"should not result in increased conditionality that would limit ownership
and constrain successful program implementation."

Development Committee
The tone of the development committee meeting was set by the failure to
move the agenda forward at the IMFC. Talking points included:

No agreement on further debt relief or new sources of development finance;
In response to the Commission for Africa findings, a call for the Bank to
develop an "action plan for Africa";
To make aid more effective, emphasis was placed on better alignment of
assistance with country strategies and "streamlining" conditionality. The
UK had encouraged the Bank to "support programmes which are agreed rather
than imposed, and to agree to measure progress against benchmarks which
focus on the impact of a country's overall policy programme rather than
particular policy decisions."
No progress on democratising the inequitable structures of the BWIs. After
three consecutive years where this item has appeared on the agenda with
little more than cosmetic change to show for it, South African finance
minister and development committee chair Trevor Manuel said his deadline
was now the spring meetings 2006. In his statement to the committee, UK
development minister Hilary Benn said that "reducing the nature and burden
of conditionality is also a way of increasing developing country voice."
During the committee press conference, outgoing president Wolfensohn
described the widely-criticised leadership selection process as being taken
by "conclaves". Trevor Manuel described Wolfowitz as a "wonderful
individual, perfectly capable" but added that "the process hasn't helped.
It's not his fault."


NGO Papers and Reports Launched at Spring Meetings

Sell IMF gold to cancel the debt: decision time is now
A coalition of NGOs has responded to a new International Monetary Fund
paper which states that it is in fact possible to sell large quantities of
gold on the open market without negative consequences on world gold prices.
The Articles of the IMF also permit it to sell the gold at prevailing
market prices and to use the proceeds to fund further debt cancellation for
impoverished nations. Whether this happens or not is now a question of
political will. In the response, the NGO networks of EURODAD, AFRODAD,
Jubilee USA and CIDSE call on world leaders to support the sale of the
IMF's massively undervalued gold reserves when they meet on 15 April for
the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank.
Full Paper:

Gold for Debt: What's New and What Next?
In this paper, Nancy Birdsall and John Williamson propose the sale of some
of the IMF's gold to help address the debt problem of some of the world's
poorest countries. They highlight the unsustainable debt situation of
HIPCs, the increased price of gold and the need to make progress towards
the MDGs as key factors which call for the use of the resource. They also
argue that the sale of a portion of IMF gold makes sense as a way to create
a more transparent institution out of the IMF.
Full paper:

Paying for 100% Debt Cancellation: Proposals Explained
Eurodad briefing examines the current proposals for further low-income
country debt cancellation and spells out how they can best be financed. The
briefing, in the form of questions and answers, aims to encourage more
people to gain confidence to enter the discussion and ensure that
significant progress is made on this vital issue during 2005

World Bank/IMF Communiqués and Transcripts from the Spring Meetings

Communiqué of the International Monetary and Financial Committee of the
Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund

Development Committee Communiqué:

Press Briefing: African Finance Ministers:

Press Conference on the Spring 2005 Meeting of the International Monetary
and Financial Committee with Gordon Brown, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer
and Chairman of the IMFC, and Rodrigo de Rato, Managing Director of the
International Monetary Fund:

Documents Related to the International Monetary and Financial Committee
(IMFC) Meeting Spring Meetings 2005: Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC)
Initiative-Statistical Update:

Statement by G-7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors:

US Treasury Secretary John Snow's Statement to the Development Committee:

US Treasury Secretary John Snow's Statement to the International Monetary
and Financial Committee:


Snow says close to debt deal for poor nations
WASHINGTON, April 19 (Reuters) - The G7 is close to an agreement to forgive
debts that poor nations owe the World Bank and African Development Bank,
but is divided on the IMF's portion, U.S Treasury Secretary John Snow said
on Tuesday.
In congressional testimony, Snow dismissed chances a British proposal would
succeed to sell International Monetary Fund gold to finance the IMF's debt.

Deal to Ease Poor Nations' Debt Eludes Rich Nations
Published: April 17, 2005 (New York Times)
The world's richest nations failed to reach a deal to forgive $40 billion
in debt owed by the world's poorest nations.

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