World finance officials to discuss sluggish economic growth

Friday, 27 September 2002, 07:00 Hrs
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WASHINGTON: The sluggish pace of world economic growth, the risk of further slowdown and steps to make foreign assistance more effective will be on the agenda when finance officials from across the world meet here September 26-29.

India's Finance Minister Jaswant Singh is already here with a high-level delegation for talks with officials of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and his counterparts of the Group of Seven (G-7), meeting in the backdrop of growing concerns about the strength and durability of global economic recovery.

Officials said the meeting of the G-7 finance ministers, the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank and various bilateral engagements will focus on the financial crises and prevention and reduction of uncertainty in emerging markets.

The G-7 consists of the U.S, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain.

IMF Managing Director Horst Kohler told a press conference Thursday that the Fund is striving to find methods to achieve "better globalization" so that benefits accrued to the entire world.

He said trade was the most important element in a country's economic growth strategy and praised the new U.S. trade promotion authority (TPA) which, he said, would make it easier for the Bush administration to negotiate trade agreements.

Kohler said the IMF is implementing internal reforms, particularly by amending its guidelines for loan conditionality to focus on country-owned, result-oriented poverty reduction policies. The guidelines were last changed in 1979, he noted.

World Bank President James Wolfensohn said the main purpose of the Bank's meeting was to examine how to move "from theory to practice" in implementing poverty-reduction strategies. He said the Bank would tell its 183 shareholder countries that it wants to "scale up" the strategies and to make them more effective.

He said developed countries were willing to work in partnership with developing countries, which have begun to see the need to build their capacities, formulate good policies and strengthen their legal and financial systems.

The meetings will be a "natural" follow-up to the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) adoption of a development agenda last November in Doha, Qatar, the Financing for Development meeting in Monterrey, Mexico, in March and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September, Wolfensohn said.

He said the Bank would also discuss funding for the "Education for All" program and additional funding for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.

HIPC is a multilateral approach to reducing to sustainable levels the debts of the most burdened poor countries.

"Education for All" would provide basic education to boys and girls in selected poor countries that have adopted good governance policies.

IMF members will review a proposal for restructuring sovereign debt that relies on a super-majority of creditors agreeing with the debtor on a restructuring plan.

On September 28, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), the IMF's principal advisory body, will receive reports on the IMF's role in low-income countries, its efforts to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism and progress with efforts to streamline conditionality in IMF programs to enhance country ownership.

Source: IANS
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