When key financial officials meet in Ottawa on November 17, the global economic slowdown and measures needed to revive growth in the world economy will top the agenda. The gathering, the fourth meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), was originally scheduled for late September at IMF headquarters but was postponed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The IMFC, which will be chaired by U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, will also focus on stepped-up efforts to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The IMFC comprises 24 IMF Governors, who are ministers, central bank governors, or others of comparable rank, representing the IMF’s 183 member countries. It was established at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the IMF’s Board of Governors, when a resolution was adopted transforming the former Interim Committee into the IMFC (see IMF Survey, October 11,1999, page 317).
The IMFC is expected to discuss the global economic situation and the policies needed to address current risks and vulnerabilities and strengthen global growth. IMF Managing Director Horst Köhler will make introductory remarks on the international community’s policy response to the current situation. Consideration of ways to sustain poverty reduction in low-income countries, particularly in light of the impact of the global slowdown on the heavily indebted poor countries, will form an integral part of this discussion. The Managing Director’s introductory remarks will build on his October 5 statement sent to the IMF’s 183 Governors, which urged the international community “to respond with sound policies to reduce the likelihood of a sustained slowdown, and make sure we are ready to deal with a deeper and longer downturn if it does emerge—thereby limiting the disruption and attendant human costs” (see IMF Survey, October 22, page 325).
The committee is also expected to discuss the role that the IMF can play in tackling money laundering and the financing of terrorism, a topic that has taken on new urgency in the wake of the tragic events of September 11. The discussion will be based partly on a report prepared by a task force of IMF staff chaired by Deputy Managing Director Eduardo Aninat.
In addition, Köhler is expected to report on progress in reforming the IMF. Here he will draw on reports to the IMFC on crisis prevention initiatives, private sector involvement in crisis prevention and resolution, streamlining IMF conditionality and enhancing country ownership of policy programs, and progress in implementing the poverty reduction strategy based on poverty reduction strategy papers and the IMF–World Bank debt initiative for the poorest countries. The committee will also receive a report on the IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office, which was established earlier this year. A press conference by Brown and Köhler will follow the IMFC meeting.
Prior to the IMFC meeting, on November 13, ministers and other senior officials of the Group of 24, representing the developing country members of the IMF, will meet in Paris. Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Adamu Ciroma, will chair the meeting. On November 17, ministers and other senior officials of the Group of 20, which comprises the major industrial countries plus a number of other advanced and emerging market countries, will meet in Ottawa. The meeting will be chaired by Canada’s Minister of Finance Paul Martin.
The Ottawa meetings will conclude on November 18 with a meeting of the Development Committee, a joint committee of IMF and World Bank Governors. Yashwant Sinha, the Indian Finance Minister, will serve as chair of the meeting.