Revival of Asian Monetary Fund Plan Proposed

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Byline: ROD L. VILLA

Speaker Jose de Venecia has proposed to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi the revival of the Asian Monetary Fund (AMF) plan which Japan first broached in 1997 to help prevent the possible occurrence of a second financial crisis in East Asia.

The speaker, who made the proposal as a joint initiative with Bangko Sentral Gov. Rafael Buenaventura, said mounting non-performing loans (NPLs) of commercial banks fromTokyo, Beijing, and Seoul to Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur "pose the single biggest challenge" to the East Asian economies.

The House leader said the Asian Monetary Fund's entry and that of large Western internaional investment banks and funds "will enable us to solve the NPLs and get the region's economies moving despite the current depressed world economy."

De Venecia modified the original Japanese proposal to an East Asian Monetary Fund instead of an Asia-wide Fund. He said an Asia Fund would not compete with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and would be "neither anti-IMF or anti-US but supportive of both."

The speaker sought the AMF's revival in a four-page letter he delivered personally to Koizumi during the Japanese leader's overnight visit to Manila last week.

In the meeting with Koizumi, De Venecia was accompanied by House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Appropriations Committee Chairman Rolando Andaya Jr., and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Apolinario Lozada.

De Venecia has been discussing with Buenaventura and BSP Deputy Governor Amando Tetanco in the last few weeks details of the plan to revive the AM and its variations.

He and Buenavetura expressed "strong support" of the Japanese initiative and said they "woul try to rally our fellow Asians to ack up this proposal." Koizumi has not officially replied.

Japan first proposed the AMF in August 1997 during a consultative meet with several ASEAN members to consider a financial rescue package for Thailand in the midst of the financial meltdown that ruined most of Southeast Asia's leading economies. …