IMF management, board 'have no role' in statements issued after a country surveillance mission

IMF's comments come after reports surfaced that a sentence critical of Japan's financing of coal projects was deleted from a Jan 28, 2022 statement. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) management and board have no role in preparing the concluding statement issued after a staff surveillance mission to a country, an IMF spokesman said on Thursday (Feb 3). 

This comes after Reuters reported that a draft sentence critical of Japan's financing of high-emissions coal projects was deleted from a Jan 28 statement.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told Reuters that the fund did not comment on leaks of draft documents. But he said the Jan 28 statement issued by staff after an Article IV surveillance mission to Japan did include "robust analysis on the issue of climate change".

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the Jan 28 concluding statement omitted a sentence included in an earlier draft, which said global efforts on climate policy would benefit if Japan ended exceptions from its pledge to end financing of new unabated coal projects.

Unabated coal projects do not capture and store the carbon dioxide produced during the combustion process.

The IMF initially declined to comment, but offered a longer statement on the Article IV surveillance process on Thursday.

Climate activists said deletion of the passage on coal from the staff's concluding statement was disappointing, coming so soon after the IMF board agreed to focus more on climate change in its surveillance of countries' economies.

The report did include a section entitled "Shifting to a Low-carbon Economy" that made no mention of coal but said meeting carbon emissions reduction goals would be especially challenging for Japan, given its heavy reliance on fossil fuels for energy since a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Mr Rice also noted that decisions on concluding statements were made by the staff country team. Management and the board were involved only in the next phase of the Article IV surveillance process, which leads to publication of a more detailed staff report.

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