IMF voting reform takes effect

AFP , Friday 4 Mar 2011

Long-sought changes enhances voice and participation of low-income countries, says organisation

The International Monetary Fund announced Thursday its long-sought rebalancing of voting rights to better represent the global economy took effect, nearly three years after the reforms were agreed.

The IMF quota and voice reforms were endorsed in principle by member states in April 2008, but had languished in the process of ratification by member countries' governments.

The IMF said the reforms entered force Thursday following ratification of an amendment by 117 member countries, representing 85 per cent of the Fund’s total voting power. "The amendment strengthens the representation of dynamic economies in the IMF and enhances the voice and participation of low-income countries," the 187-nation IMF said in a statement.

The reform essentially shifts voting rights and quotas, the permanent contribution of member states to IMF finances, from developed countries to other countries, in particular emerging economies.

Britain, France and Saudi Arabia gave up the most in the rebalancing that benefited China, India and South Korea, which were under-represented at the Washington-based institution.

"I commend our members for taking the required action to ratify this package of reforms adopted in 2008," said IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

But the work of the member states is not finished, he recalled, urging the swift ratification of "the next step in this process" to further align IMF representation with global economic realities.

In December, the 187 member states adopted a new set of reforms on voting rights that will double quotas and lead to an all-elected executive board.

Under the proposed shift, Brazil, China, India and Russia will be counted among the IMF's 10 largest shareholders.

The December 2010 reforms will require ratifications on the national level by at least 113 member states having at least 85 percent of the IMF voting rights.

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