There has been talk for years of the need for IMF governance reform by critics of the IMF. Now it is on the official agenda--and some of the civil society organizations (CSOs) who have been most interested and vocal on the subject have been participating in the debate with the IMF. Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn held a small meeting with civil society representatives from around the world--the final step of the so-called Fourth Pillar process.
The name, the Fourth Pillar, had a reason. Strauss-Kahn invited the CSOs to supplement the other three "pillars" who were submitting reports to the IMF on its governance--the IMF's Independent Evaluation Office, the Executive Board Working Group on IMF Corporate governance, and an independent panel chaired by then South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.
The gathering on October 1 in Istanbul, ahead of the IMF's Annual Meetings, was the culmination of a five-month consultation with civil society organizations. The Fourth Pillar representatives, chaired by Jo Marie Griesgraber of the Washington-based New Rules for Global Finance coalition, presented their final report to the Managing Director--which they had earlier discussed with the IMF Executive Board.
In early October, economic policymakers representing the entire membership of the IMF, 186 countries in total, will gather in Istanbul for the Annual Meetings. More formally, the 2009 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF will be held in Istanbul, Turkey on October 6-7, 2009. Many others—including private sector executives, academics, and civil society representatives—will also come to Istanbul during this period to discuss issues of global concern.
And where they go, so goes this blog. For the next week or so, the blog will be coming “live” from Istanbul, providing a real time account of the many events and debates.
There’s a lot going on. We will have the formal meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF, discussing the next steps in overcoming the global financial crisis and getting growth going again. The IMF will unveil its latest forecasts and present its World Economic Outlook (WEO) and Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR). We will discuss how the IMF has responded to the crisis, looking at how crisis lending reveals more flexible terms, and focuses more on the social impact.
With the global financial crisis, the world is increasingly looking to the International Monetary Fund—not just for financing but as the global institution charged with overseeing members’ economies and policies (what we call surveillance). It's easy to forget that only 10 years ago the Fund was a secretive institution. That's no longer the case. Communicating and engaging with the world at large is now a normal and essential part of the Fund’s business.
The IMF today is a very open institution. The vast majority of our reports are published. The public can search the IMF’s archives. And we are making lots of effort to reach out to external stakeholders.
The benefits of this increased transparency, both for the Fund’s surveillance and lending activities, are indisputable. Transparency allows us to engage with the public and to build a broader understanding and support of what we do. It benefits the quality of our advice by subjecting our analysis to outside scrutiny. And more generally, it makes us more accountable for our advice and financial decisions. In all, it makes us a more effective and legitimate institution.