Accountability of the International Monetary Fund

Accountability of the International Monetary Fund

Accountability of the International Monetary Fund

Accountability of the International Monetary Fund


"This volume brings together leading experts from North America, Europe, Africa and SE Asia to further the debate on the various dimensions of accountability of the IMF to its various shareholders and stakeholders. Having fully explored how the notion of accountability can be pragmatically applied to the IMF, it then tests various alternative approaches and puts forward recommendations for more effective and accountable future practice." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Accountability is a multi-dimensional concept. Most simply put, it involves decision makers being held responsible for the decisions they take. This simple definition raises many questions: who should be involved in the decision making process, how should decisions be taken, and who should hold decision makers to account? Other questions include: what degree of transparency should there be regarding decisions taken, against what criteria should decision makers be judged, and what mechanisms and processes are needed to facilitate holding decision makers to account? the intent of this volume is to further inform the debate on some of these issues in relation to the accountability of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to its various stakeholders.

The Executive Board

One of the central failings of the IMF’s current governance structure is the lack of effective participation by many of the developing countries, Sub-Saharan African countries in particular, in the decision making processes of the Executive Board. As Rustomjee reveals in Chapter 1, the skewed allocation of votes and board seats in favour of the richest countries undermines consensus decision making. Little opportunity is provided for the developing countries to put their concerns on to the board’s agenda or to get their views taken into account during board discussions. the implication is that the priorities of the imf do not necessarily reflect those of the majority of the institution’s clients, that is, those members who borrow from the imf, and that decisions taken may not be optimal because they do not consider borrowers’ needs or capacities. This lack of understanding leads to a loss of ownership and instances of poor policy and program design, and ultimately can lead to policy and program failure.

Furthermore, developing country Executive Directors (EDs) assume a disproportionate share of the workload since they typically represent more members who are engaged in imf programs. Relatively speaking, developing country EDs are less well resourced, have less institutional memory and face greater intra-constituency political and coordination challenges, all of which further limits their ability to engage optimally in the board.

Rustomjee’s proposed solution is firstly to initiate a dialogue on the issue of developing country representation, either by: 1) establishing a committee of the Executive Board reporting to the governors; 2) establishing a committee of the Board of Governors; or 3) carrying out an external review.

Secondly, he proposes several options for increasing the voting share of all or a subset of developing countries, while maintaining an assured but not excessive majority of the voting power for creditor countries. Options include:

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