November 21, 2011 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom 



A little understanding of how the International Monetary Fund is organized and managed would save a great deal of embarrassment and avoid us having to waste the time of important individuals working within that institution.
The IMF is not your ordinary international organization. It is one of the world’s foremost financial institutions which has been around for a long time over which time it would have developed its own system of governance and evolved its organizational structure.
It is part of the normal function of the International Monetary Fund to undertake consultations with their membership. This involves an examination of the economic situation in those countries and this assessment is usually undertaken by a mission.
Guyana has had several such missions over the years and the reports of these missions have been made public since the IMF and other international bodies are now placing a high premium on transparency. The country reports on Guyana for example are publicly available on line.
The IMF is also committed to wide- reaching consultations and therefore when it dispatches its officers to Guyana, they meet not just with government officials but with other important stakeholders.
The IMF has many members but not every country sits on the Executive Board which is responsible for the day to day administration of the organization. Having all its members represented on the board would surely pose a problem, including a problem of seating.
As such, Executive Directors are voted in by the member states and each Director is usually responsible for either his country or a bloc of countries. In the case of Guyana, for example, the present Executive Director for Guyana also represents Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Haiti, Panama, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
There are a number of executive directors and these directors normally have special advisors to help them in their work. The directors are ones who exercise voting rights for the country they represent and therefore they have to be familiar with what is taking place in those countries. Having a good corps of advisors is one of the means through which they are able to do this.
The duty to prepare periodic country reports is however not the responsibility of these special advisors or with the Executive Director of that country. When the IMF, however dispatches a country mission to a country, say Guyana, the report that emanates from that mission should not be confused with any statement issued by the Executive Director.
The mission usually comprises economists who undertake an independent assessment of the situation in the country. The Executive Director for Guyana is not part of the mission and cannot therefore dictate what is written. They are free, however, to issue statements offering their perspective which can be attached as part of the appendices. These statements are merely part of the references which the mission provides but the mission itself undertakes the assessment of the economic conditions and forecasts of the country.
Neither the Executive Director nor any of his advisors can be deemed as authors of country reports. They are not authors but may be consulted on these reports or may offer a statement. It is therefore not accurate to ascribe authorship of country reports to someone simply because some statement by that individual appeared in the appendices.
The fact that someone working within the IMF structure may have appeared on a political platform may have some ethical implications. But that is a matter for the IMF to deal with internally. However, it should be recalled that many of the persons who work within the IMF are persons who would have been associated with some public or political office, that is, they would have had some affiliation with governments. Many of them would have been unable to land a job within the IMF without having served before in a public office either as a minister or in some other position. And many of them when they leave the IMF head for politics in their countries.
And more fundamentally since these advisors are not authors of the reports, their political affiliations both before and after they would have assumed employment within the IMF, cannot be said to taint the country reports.
And in any event these special advisors are not usually long- term employees. They come and they go, just as how later this year another mission will come and will pronounce again on the prudent management of the economy, and who will publish another country report and which will have appended a number of tables and indices and perhaps also the assessment, issued perhaps in the statement, of the country’s executive director and his special advisors.

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