On November 20, the IMF announced that the Executive Board had adopted a work program that broadly defines the Board’s agenda leading up to the spring meetings of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) on April 29, 2001. The full text of News Brief No. 00/102 is available on the IMF’s website (www.imf.org).
The work program has been designed to implement the vision of the future role and activities of the IMF set out by IMF Managing Director Horst Köhler in his address to the IMF–World Bank Annual Meetings in Prague in late September 2000 (see IMF Survey, October 9, page 303).
The IMFC and the Annual Meetings gave new momentum to the effort to develop answers to critical questions about globalization and the fight against poverty. The membership of the IMF wants, first and foremost, to put crisis prevention at the heart of IMF surveillance. Therefore, the IMF’s surveillance has to be conducted with an increasing emphasis on identifying sources of vulnerability and on financial sector and financial market issues. At the same time, the membership wants the IMF to stay strongly engaged with its poorest member countries. Priorities in the work program for the coming months therefore include
- finding ways to help countries exploit the opportunities of the global economy while containing the risks;
- working to make a success of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative;
- considering the best ways to streamline conditionality and improve country ownership of IMF-supported programs;
- reaching formal decisions on the review of IMF lending facilities; and
- considering ways that IMF technical assistance can provide stronger support for institution building and the implementation of measures to reduce the risk of financial crises.
- In the coming period, the Board’s activities are likely to be distributed as follows:
- Well over half of the Board’s time would be spent on country operational matters.
- About one-fourth of the Board’s time would be in discussion on policy items, concentrated in several areas, as set out in the semiannual work program.
- The remainder would be devoted to the World Economic Outlook exercise and other key operational matters, such as the IMF’s finances and administration.
In the coming months, the Board will review the pilot of the IMF–World Bank Financial Sector Assessment Program, discuss issues relating to the involvement of the private sector in the prevention and resolution of crises, and discuss the continuing staff work on issues such as exchange arrangements, regional integration, and regional payments arrangements.
A key step in helping the IMF to learn from experience and adapt to change was the decision to establish the independent Evaluation Office (EVO) to provide outside assessments of the IMF’s work (see Press Release Nos. 00/49 and 00/53). Management will continue to work with the Board on recruitment of a Director of the EVO and other steps aimed at making the EVO operational before the 2001 spring meetings.
In proposing the work program to the Board, the Managing Director also called on Executive Directors to think about the direction for further reform of the IMF.