IMF sidesteps clash with US over funding, delays shareholding changes to 2023

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaking at the Fund's and World Bank's annual meetings in Washington, DC, on Oct 18, 2019.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaking at the Fund's and World Bank's annual meetings in Washington, DC, on Oct 18, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The International Monetary Fund said on Friday (Oct 18) its 189 member countries had agreed to maintain the IMF's US$1 trillion (S$1.36 trillion) in total lending resources while delaying changes to its shareholding structure to as late as December 2023.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva announced the decision at the Fund's and World Bank's annual meetings, saying that the move will provide confidence that the IMF can adequately support members as they deal with slowing global growth.

The move is a recognition that the current review of its quota - or shareholding system - was not going to result in changes that would grant more power to growing emerging markets such as China and Brazil in the face of US opposition.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the IMF's spring meetings in April that the United States opposes increasing overall funding and shareholding quotas.

"In our view, the IMF currently has ample resources to achieve its mission," he said at the time.

The IMF's steering committee endorsed the decision, which calls for completion of a package to ensure that the fund maintains its lending resources.

The IMF's US$250 billion crisis fund, the New Arrangements to Borrow, created a decade ago, was due to expire in 2022.

Bilateral lending arrangements, totaling about US$440 billion, were due to expire at the end of 2019.

The move by the IMF will "preserve its role at the center of the global financial safety net," Lesetja Kganyago, IMFC chairman and Reserve Bank of South Africa governor, said in a statement.

"The IMFC will continue to work to ensure that the IMF has sufficient resources and that its governance appropriately reflects developments in the global economy and its membership." IMF members last altered quotas in 2010, agreeing to increase China's and other emerging markets' voting power, but the changes were not implemented until 2016, in part due to approval delays by the US Congress.