24 March 2004

Africa: IMF Executives Move to Replace MD

Abuja — Want selection to be open to all countries

The race to fill the vacant position of Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has begun as a group of Executive Directors of the Fund, otherwise known as the "G-11 Executive Directors" representing more than 100 countries, are insisting on transparency and equal opportunities for all member-countries in the selection process.

The group advocated that the "process of identifying and selecting the candidate must be open and transparent, with the goal of attracting the best person for the job, regardless of nationality."

The erstwhile Managing Director of the Fund, Mr. Horst Kohler recently resigned to join the race for the German Presidency.

The G-11 Executive Directors represent emerging and developing countries from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, joined by a group of Executive Directors from Australia and Switzerland, who each represent a range of countries, along with the Executive Director from the Russian Federation.

The IMF has 24 members on its executive board representing the five regions with Africa having the lowest representation of two members. Of the two seats for Africa, Nigeria's former Minister of Finance, Alhaji Ismaila Usman represents the entire Anglophone Africa while the second seat is for Francophone bloc of countries being occupied by Damian Ondo Ma¤e of Equitorial Guinea.

By convention, Europe appoints the head of the IMF and the United States of America (USA) selects the president of the World Bank, confirmed by votes on the institutions' boards. The IMF board is dominated by the USA and Europe, while non-European countries outside the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrial countries command only a third of the votes.

A statement from the Fund disclosed that the group met last Friday, and discussed the selection process.

Reports revealed that the G11's intervention came on the heels of a report submitted to the boards of directors of the IMF and World Bank in 2001 by a working group of executive directors. In the report, the working group had recommended to the institutions to establish clear criteria for nominating candidates, consult all executive directors and have "regionally representative" advisory group of experts to assist.

The report was said to have been endorsed but not officially adopted by the IMF board.

While urging that the process of identifying and selecting the candidate must be open and transparent, the directors expressed the belief that "a plurality of candidates representing the diversity of members across regions would be in the best interest of the Fund."

The group expressed the view that "the candidate nominated for the position must be an eminent person, familiar with the goals of the institution."

Reports revealed that the G-11 countries control about 30 percent of the votes on the Fund's board. It is expected that Australia, Russia and Switzerland would raise that number to 39 percent.

Also, the G-11 said they want all members of the Executive Board to be "consulted in the process of considering candidates that lead to the selection of the Managing Director and informed in a timely manner regarding candidates, including their credentials and knowledge of the institution."

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