- International Monetary Fund
- Published Date:
- May 2008
Exchange Arrangements and Surveillance
Notification of Exchange Arrangements Under Article IV, Section 2
2. The procedures set forth in Section IV of SM/77/277 [attached] are approved, and members shall be guided by the considerations in Section IV with respect to the prompt notification of any changes in their exchange arrangements.
Decision No. 5712-(78/41),
March 23, 1978
Attachment Section IV of SM/77/277
IV. Issues Connected with Subsequent Notification
Once the procedures for initial notification have been clarified, only a few issues remain to be dealt with in respect of subsequent notifications. One of these is the question of what would constitute a change in an exchange arrangement requiring notification. Clearly, any official action involving the adoption of a different type of arrangement would require notification. Furthermore, in cases where a member pegs its currency, it would be appropriate to notify the Fund of all changes in the peg; this would include not only every change in the central point around which a member was maintaining margins, but also those involving a change in the composition of a composite, other than one occurring from a redistribution of currency weights on the basis of newly available trade or payments data.
For members with flexible exchange arrangements, it is more difficult to specify changes, which will require notification to the Fund. For members classified as fixing the rate according to a set of indicators, it would seem an appropriate rule that they communicate to the Fund details of any discrete exchange rate changes that are not consistent with the changes produced by the set of indicators. It would also be expected, if the suggested approach outlined earlier in this paper is accepted, that all members maintaining flexible exchange arrangements be asked to notify the Fund whenever the authorities have taken a significant decision affecting such arrangements. This would involve, as a minimum, notification of such decisions whenever public policy statements have been issued. In addition, in any instance in which the Managing Director considered that a significant change had occurred in a member’s exchange policy (including intervention arrangements), and no notification has been received from that member, he would consult with the member to request information on the background to such developments. If considered appropriate, a formal notification of the change would be sought from the member.
Members would be expected to inform the Fund of all actions involving exchange taxes and subsidies. Indeed, under Article VIII, Section 3, members will continue to be required to request prior Fund approval of any multiple currency practices that may be involved in such actions.
Upon receipt of notification of a change in exchange arrangements from a member the staff would circulate it to the Executive Board. If the Board wishes, it could continue to be the normal practice that whenever a change is significant, its communication to the Board would be followed promptly by a staff paper describing the context of the change in policy and giving the staff’s assessment.
Chairman’s Summing Up—Review of the 1977 Surveillance Decision—Proposal for a New Decision Executive Board Meeting 07/51-2, June 15, 2007
Following extensive discussions over recent months, the Executive Board has adopted a new Decision on bilateral surveillance over members’ policies. Reflecting the momentous changes in the world economic and financial system since the previous Decision on surveillance over members’ exchange rate policies was adopted in 1977, the new surveillance Decision updates guidance to both the Fund and its members regarding their obligations under Article IV of the Articles of Agreement. The discussions leading up to the Decision have served to build a broadly shared understanding of its purpose and its key elements. I am particularly grateful that in arriving at this agreement on a new surveillance Decision, members with a spectrum of views have made their best efforts to meet the dual objective of commanding the broadest support and achieving the best outcome possible. Today’s decision is also an important step forward in the implementation of the Fund’s Medium-Term Strategy, and helps pave the way for positive outcomes on its other elements, including quota and voice reforms and the Fund’s income model.
The new surveillance Decision focuses on bilateral surveillance, and provides guidance both to the Fund in the conduct of surveillance—in Part I of the Decision—and to members in the conduct of their exchange rate policies—in Part II of the Decision—including through an Annex that provides guidance with respect to the meaning of Article IV, Section 1 (iii). In their discussions on the text of the Decision, Directors reaffirmed the understanding, consistent with the Fund’s legal framework, that references to the “Fund” in a Board decision are generally understood to mean the Executive Board, supported by management and staff as appropriate. A few Directors would have preferred that the Decision also cover multilateral surveillance—that is, the Fund’s responsibility to oversee the international monetary system, under Article IV, Section 3(a)—and expressed the hope that this would be included at a later stage. Most Directors agreed that a number of sections of SM/07/184 identified below would provide particularly important guidance as to how the Fund should apply the Decision.
Looking ahead, Directors generally viewed the adoption of the Decision as an important starting point, but not by any means the end of the road, in the Fund’s efforts to discharge its surveillance responsibilities effectively and in an evenhanded manner. It will be important that the adoption of the Decision is followed up by ensuring that both staff and national authorities are fully familiar with the new framework and that they deepen their shared understanding of how surveillance can be effectively enhanced.
Under the new Decision, the concept of external stability becomes an overarching organizing principle of surveillance. In that regard, the Executive Board endorsed the meaning ascribed to this term in paragraphs 3 through 11 of SM/07/184, with many Directors emphasizing that, in applying the Decision, the text of those paragraphs will provide particularly useful guidance.
Directors considered that the adoption of a new principle for the guidance of members’ exchange rate policies, PGM [Principle] D, is an important step forward for the Fund. They noted that this principle should guide members in avoiding external instability arising from their exchange rate policies.
The Executive Board endorsed the definition of fundamental exchange rate misalignment as set forth in paragraph 6 of SM/07/184. Directors underscored, however, that this needs to be applied with appropriate caution. They stressed, in particular, that it should be used with due acknowledgement of the considerable measurement uncertainties involved, and that estimates of misalignment require the exercise of careful judgment. In practice, an exchange rate would only be judged to be fundamentally misaligned if the misalignment is found to be significant. Directors also attached considerable importance to the provisions of the Decision whereby the benefit of any reasonable doubt would be given to the authorities in establishing whether fundamental misalignment is present. Directors noted that any judgment on misalignment should be applied in an evenhanded manner irrespective of the nature of the exchange rate regime and the size of the economy. Also, a number of Directors emphasized the potential market-sensitivity of estimates of misalignment and the need for care in communicating them.
With regard to the indicator in paragraph 15 of the Decision on protracted large-scale intervention in one direction in the exchange market, Directors noted that such intervention is worthy of special scrutiny when it is accompanied by sterilization. Of course, sterilization—often appropriately engaged in to promote domestic stability—may very well be perfectly justified. The Executive Board endorsed the discussion contained in paragraphs 41–42 of SM/07/184.
With respect to the guidance which the Board has provided in the Annex to the Decision on the meaning of Article IV, Section 1 (iii), Directors recognized that exchange rate manipulation can take many different forms, including intervention in the exchange markets and the imposition of capital controls for the purpose of directly targeting the exchange rate. They noted that, as explained in the Annex to the Decision, under Article IV, Section 1 (iii), a member is only required to avoid exchange rate manipulation when such manipulation is engaged in for one of the purposes identified in that provision. A number of Directors stressed that the above mention of intervention and capital controls should not be construed as stigmatizing the use of these legitimate policy options per se, or removing them from the toolkit of members.
Today’s discussion completes the review of the 1977 Decision, which is now replaced by the 2007 Decision on Bilateral Surveillance over Members’ Policies.
Bilateral Surveillance over Members’ Policies—2007 Decision
Since the adoption in 1977 of the Decision entitled “Surveillance over Exchange Rate Policies”(the “1977 Decision”), there have been significant developments in the global economy, characterized by growing trade and financial integration. In light of these developments and in recognition of the increasingly important international dimensions of surveillance and of cross-country spillovers, the Fund is of the view that, by incorporating existing best practice in the area of surveillance, an update of the 1977 Decision would play an important role in providing guidance to both the Fund and its members regarding their mutual responsibilities under Article IV. The Fund emphasizes that the guidance being provided to members in this Decision relates to the performance of their existing obligations under Article IV; no new obligations are created for members by this Decision. Moreover, the Fund recognizes that members have legitimate policy objectives that are beyond the scope of Article IV and, accordingly, beyond the scope of this Decision, although when adopting policies to achieve these objectives, members need to ensure that such policies are consistent with their obligations under Article IV. Part I of this Decision is designed to give guidance to the Fund in its exercise of surveillance; Part I of this Decision does not, and cannot be construed or used to, expand or broaden the scope—or change the nature—of members’ obligations under the Articles of Agreement, directly or indirectly. The principles for the guidance of members set forth in this Decision regarding their exchange rate policies respect the domestic social and political policies of members and will be applied in a manner that pays due regard to the circumstances of members and the need for evenhandedness in the practice of surveillance. Finally, looking forward, flexibility should be maintained to allow for the continued evolution of surveillance.
1. This Decision provides guidance to the Fund in its oversight over members’ policies pursuant to Article IV, Sections 3(a) and (b), and guidance to members in the conduct of their exchange rate policies pursuant to Article IV, Section 3(b). It does not deal directly with the Fund’s responsibility to oversee the international monetary system in order to ensure its effective operation, referred to in Article IV, Section 3 (a).
2. Part I of this Decision sets out the scope and modalities of the Fund’s oversight of members’ obligations under Article IV, Section 1, including the Fund’s exercise of firm surveillance over the exchange rate policies of members (such oversight of members’ obligations is hereinafter referred to as “bilateral surveillance.” Part II establishes principles for the guidance of members in the conduct of their exchange rate policies as required under Article IV, Section 3 (b); it also identifies certain developments which, in the Fund’s assessment of a member’s observance of the principles, would require thorough review and might indicate the need for discussion with the member. Part III sets out procedures for surveillance.
3. Fund surveillance over members’ policies shall be adapted to the needs of the international monetary and financial system as they develop. The principles and procedures set out in this Decision, which apply to all members irrespective of their exchange arrangements and balance of payments positions, are not necessarily comprehensive and are subject to reconsideration by the Fund in the light of experience.
Part I. Principles for the Guidance of the Fund in its Bilateral Surveillance
A. The Scope of Bilateral Surveillance
4. The scope of bilateral surveillance is determined by members’ obligations under Article IV, Section 1. Members undertake under Article IV, Section 1 to collaborate with the Fund and other members to assure orderly exchange arrangements and to promote a stable system of exchange rates (hereinafter “systemic stability.” Systemic stability is most effectively achieved by each member adopting policies that promote its own “external stability”—that is, policies that are consistent with members’ obligations under Article IV, Section 1 and, in particular, the specific obligations set forth in Article IV, Sections 1 (i) through (iv). “External stability” refers to a balance of payments position that does not, and is not likely to, give rise to disruptive exchange rate movements. Except as provided in paragraph 7 below, external stability is assessed at the level of each member.
5. In its bilateral surveillance, the Fund will focus on those policies of members that can significantly influence present or prospective external stability. The Fund will assess whether these policies are promoting external stability and advise the member on policy adjustments necessary for this purpose. Accordingly, exchange rate policies will always be the subject of the Fund’s bilateral surveillance with respect to each member, as will monetary, fiscal, and financial sector policies (both their macroeconomic aspects and macroeconomically relevant structural aspects). Other policies will be examined in the context of surveillance only to the extent that they significantly influence present or prospective external stability.
6. In the conduct of their domestic economic and financial policies, members are considered by the Fund to be promoting external stability when they are promoting domestic stability—that is, when they (i) endeavor to direct their domestic economic and financial policies toward the objective of fostering orderly economic growth with reasonable price stability, with due regard to their circumstances, and (ii) seek to promote stability by fostering orderly underlying economic and financial conditions and a monetary system that does not tend to produce erratic disruptions. The Fund in its surveillance will assess whether a member’s domestic policies are directed toward the promotion of domestic stability. While the Fund will always examine whether a member’s domestic policies are directed toward keeping the member’s economy operating broadly at capacity, the Fund will examine whether domestic policies are directed toward fostering a high rate of potential growth only in those cases where such high potential growth significantly influences prospects for domestic, and thereby external, stability. However, the Fund will not require a member that is complying with Article IV, Sections 1(i) and (ii) to change its domestic policies in the interests of external stability.
7. This Decision applies to members of currency unions, subject to the following considerations. Members of currency unions remain subject to all of their obligations under Article IV, Section 1 and, accordingly, each member is accountable for those policies that are conducted by union-level institutions on its behalf. In its surveillance over the policies of members of a currency union, the Fund will assess whether relevant policies implemented at the level of the currency union (including exchange rate and monetary policies) and at the level of members are promoting the external stability of the union and will advise on policy adjustments necessary for this purpose. In particular, the Fund will assess whether the exchange rate policies of the union are promoting its external stability, and whether domestic policies implemented at the level of the union are promoting the domestic, and thereby external, stability of the union. Because, in a currency union, exchange rate policies are implemented at the level of the union, the principles for the guidance of members’ exchange rate policies and the associated indicators set out in paragraph 15 of this Decision only apply at the level of the currency union. With respect to the conduct of domestic policies implemented at the level of individual members, a member of a currency union is considered by the Fund to be promoting the external stability of the union when it is promoting its own domestic stability. In view of the importance of individual members’ balances of payments for the domestic stability of the member and the external stability of the union, the Fund’s assessment of the policies of a member of a currency union will always include an evaluation of developments in the member’s balance of payments.
B. The Modalities of Bilateral Surveillance
8. Dialogue and persuasion are key pillars of effective surveillance. The Fund, in its bilateral surveillance, will clearly and candidly assess relevant economic developments, prospects, and policies of the member in question, and advise on these. Such assessments and advice are intended to assist that member in making policy choices, and to enable other members to discuss these policy choices with that member. In the context of bilateral surveillance, the Fund will foster an environment of frank and open dialogue and mutual trust with each member and will be evenhanded across members, affording similar treatment to members in similar relevant circumstances.
9. The Fund’s assessment of a member’s policies and its advice on these policies will pay due regard to the circumstances of the member. This assessment and advice will be formulated within the framework of a comprehensive analysis of the general economic situation and economic policy strategy of the member, and will pay due regard to the member’s implementation capacity. Moreover, in advising members on the manner in which they may promote external stability, the Fund shall, to the extent permitted under Article IV, take into account the member’s other objectives.
10. The Fund’s assessment and advice in the context of bilateral surveillance will be informed by, and be consistent with, a multilateral framework that incorporates relevant aspects of the global and regional economic environment, including exchange rates, international capital market conditions, and key linkages among members. The Fund’s assessment and advice will take into account the impact of a member’s policies on other members to the extent that the member’s policies undermine the promotion of its own external stability.
11. The Fund’s assessment and advice in the context of bilateral surveillance will, to the extent possible, be placed in the context of an examination of the member’s medium-term objectives and the planned conduct of policies, including possible responses to the most relevant contingencies.
12. The Fund’s assessment of a member’s policies will always include an evaluation of the developments in the member’s balance of payments, including the size and sustainability of capital flows, against the background of its reserves, the size and composition of its other external assets and its external liabilities, and its opportunities for access to international capital markets.
Part II. Principles for the Guidance of Members’ Policies Under Article IV, Section 1
13. Principles A through D below are adopted pursuant to Article IV, Section 3 (b) and are intended to provide guidance to members in the conduct of their exchange rate policies in accordance with their obligations under Article IV, Section 1. In accordance with Article IV, Section 3 (b), these Principles respect the domestic social and political policies of members. In applying these Principles, the Fund will pay due regard to the circumstances of members. Members are presumed to be implementing policies that are consistent with the Principles. When, in the context of surveillance, a question arises as to whether a particular member is implementing policies consistent with the Principles, the Fund will give the member the benefit of any reasonable doubt, including with respect to an assessment of fundamental exchange rate misalignment. In circumstances where the Fund has determined that a member is implementing policies that are not consistent with these Principles and is informing the member as to what policy adjustments should be made to address this situation, the Fund will take into consideration the disruptive impact that excessively rapid adjustment would have on the member’s economy.
14. Principle A sets forth the obligation contained in Article IV, Section 1(iii); further guidance on its meaning is provided in the Annex to this Decision. Principles B through D constitute recommendations rather than obligations of members. A determination by the Fund that a member is not following one of these recommendations would not create a presumption that that member is in breach of its obligations under Article IV, Section 1.
A. A member shall avoid manipulating exchange rates or the international monetary system in order to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage over other members.
B. A member should intervene in the exchange market if necessary to counter disorderly conditions, which may be characterized inter alia by disruptive short-term movements in the exchange rate of its currency.
C. Members should take into account in their intervention policies the interests of other members, including those of the countries in whose currencies they intervene.
D. A member should avoid exchange rate policies that result in external instability.
15. In its surveillance of the observance by members of the Principles set forth above, the Fund shall consider the following developments as among those which would require thorough review and might indicate the need for discussion with a member:
(i) protracted large-scale intervention in one direction in the exchange market;
(ii) official or quasi-official borrowing that either is unsustainable or brings unduly high liquidity risks, or excessive and prolonged official or quasi-official accumulation of foreign assets, for balance of payments purposes;
(iii)(a) the introduction, substantial intensification, or prolonged maintenance, for balance of payments purposes, of restrictions on, or incentives for, current transactions or payments, or (b) the introduction or substantial modification for balance of payments purposes of restrictions on, or incentives for, the inflow or outflow of capital;
(iv) the pursuit, for balance of payments purposes, of monetary and other financial policies that provide abnormal encouragement or discouragement to capital flows;
(v) fundamental exchange rate misalignment;
(vi) large and prolonged current account deficits or surpluses; and
(vii) large external sector vulnerabilities, including liquidity risks, arising from private capital flows.
Part III. Procedures for Surveillance
16. Each country that becomes a member of the Fund after the adoption of this decision shall, within thirty days of the date of its membership, notify the Fund in appropriate detail of the exchange arrangements it intends to apply in fulfillment of its obligations under Article IV, Section 1. Each member, regardless of its date of membership, shall notify the Fund promptly of any changes in its exchange arrangements.
17. Members shall consult with the Fund regularly under Article IV. In principle, the consultations under Article IV shall comprehend the regular consultations under Articles VIII and XIV, and shall take place annually. They shall include consideration of the observance by members of the principles set forth above as well as of a member’s obligations under Article IV, Section 1. Not later than sixty-five days after the termination of discussions between the member and the staff, the Executive Board shall reach conclusions and thereby complete the consultation under Article IV, except in the case of consultations with members eligible for financing under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility identified in Decision No. 8240-(86/56), SAF, adopted March 26, 1986, as amended, where the Executive Board shall reach conclusions no later than three months from the termination of discussions between the member and the staff.
18. Broad developments in exchange rates will be reviewed periodically by the Fund, inter alia in discussions of the international adjustment process within the framework of the World Economic Outlook. The Fund will continue to conduct consultations in preparing for these discussions.
19. The Managing Director shall maintain close contact with members in connection with their exchange arrangements and their policies under Article IV, Section 1, and will be prepared to discuss on the initiative of a member important changes that it contemplates in its exchange arrangements or its policies.
20. (a) Whenever the Managing Director considers that important economic or financial developments are likely to affect a member’s exchange rate policies or the behavior of the exchange rate of its currency, the Managing Director shall initiate informally and confidentially a discussion with the member. After such discussion the Managing Director may report to the Executive Board or informally advise the Executive Directors and, if the Executive Board considers it appropriate, an ad hoc Article IV consultation between the member and the Fund shall be conducted in accordance with the procedure set out in subparagraph (b) below.
(b) A staff report will be circulated to the Executive Directors under cover of a note from the Secretary specifying a tentative date for Executive Board discussion which will be at least 15 days later than the date upon which the report is circulated. The Secretary’s note will also set out a draft decision taking note of the staff report and completing the ad hoc consultation without discussion or approval of the views contained in the report; the decision will be adopted upon the expiration of the two-week period following the circulation of the staff report to the Executive Directors unless, within such period, there is a request from an Executive Director or decision of the Managing Director to place the report on the agenda of the Executive Board. If the staff report is placed on the agenda, the Executive Board will discuss the report and will reach conclusions which will be reflected in a summing up.
(c) Unless otherwise decided by the Executive Board, the conduct of an ad hoc consultation with a member will not affect the consultation cycle applicable to the member or the deadline for completion of the next consultation with the member
21. The Executive Board shall review this Decision and the general implementation of bilateral surveillance at intervals of three years, and at such other times as consideration of such matters may be placed on the agenda of the Executive Board.1
22. Decision No. 5392-(77/63), adopted April 29, 1977, as amended, and paragraph 3 of Decision No. 6026-(79/13), adopted January 22, 1979, as amended, are hereby repealed.
Decision No. 13919-(07/51),
June 15, 2007
ANNEX Article IV, Section 1(iii) and Principle A
1. Article IV, Section 1(iii) of the Fund’s Articles provides that members shall “avoid manipulating exchange rates or the international monetary system in order to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage over other members.” The language of this provision is repeated in Principle A contained in Part II of this Decision. The text set forth below is designed to provide further guidance regarding the meaning of this provision.
2. A member would only be acting inconsistently with Article IV, Section 1(iii) if the Fund determined both that: (a) the member was manipulating its exchange rate or the international monetary system and (b) such manipulation was being carried out for one of the two purposes specifically identified in Article IV, Section 1(iii).
(a) “Manipulation” of the exchange rate is only carried out through policies that are targeted at—and actually affect—the level of an exchange rate. Moreover, manipulation may cause the exchange rate to move or may prevent such movement.
(b) A member that is manipulating its exchange rate would only be acting inconsistently with Article IV, Section 1(iii) if the Fund were to determine that such manipulation was being undertaken “in order to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage over other members.” In that regard, a member will only be considered to be manipulating exchange rates in order to gain an unfair competitive advantage over other members if the Fund determines both that: (A) the member is engaged in these policies for the purpose of securing fundamental exchange rate misalignment in the form of an undervalued exchange rate and (B) the purpose of securing such misalignment is to increase net exports.
3. It is the responsibility of the Fund to make an objective assessment of whether a member is observing its obligations under Article IV, Section 1 (iii), based on all available evidence, including consultation with the member concerned. Any representation made by the member regarding the purpose of its policies will be given the benefit of any reasonable doubt. (SM/07/183, Sup. 2, 6/19/07)
The Acting Chairman’s Summing Up—2008 Triennial Surveillance Review—Overview Paper Executive Board Meeting 08/84, September 26, 2008
Executive Directors welcomed the opportunity to review the implementation of Surveillance. They considered that the refocusing of surveillance had steered it in the right direction. In concluding the 2008 Triennial Surveillance Review, Directors generally concurred on the thrust of many of the review’s findings and recommendations, as outlined below.
Overall value added. The review’s findings suggest that the overall quality of Fund surveillance is held in high regard by its key audiences. The value-added is most evident with regard to fiscal policy issues and policy challenges facing developing countries. New insights and value-added are rated more highly by audiences concerned with surveillance across countries than by country authorities with regard to surveillance of their own country. So Directors also felt that Fund advice has less traction in large advanced and emerging economies than in other economies. Thus, there appear to be some value-added gaps, [that] surveillance should strive to fill.
Progress. Nearly all Directors concurred that significant progress has been made against the four priority monitorable objectives identified in the 2004 surveillance review yielding: sharper focus of surveillance on the Fund’s core mandate; better quality of exchange rate analysis; greater emphasis on providing a multilateral perspective; and stronger financial sector surveillance. But challenges remain, and the Fund should further improve the effectiveness of surveillance by building on its comparative advantage.
Risk assessments. Surveillance is paying insufficient attention to risks, and communication about such risks has also sometimes been rather tentative. Surveillance countries need to assess risks around the baseline more systematically, including those identified at the multilateral level. More attention also needs to be given to “tail risks”—[that] is, risks with low probability of occurrence but with potentially severe implications. The selection of risks for such analysis must be judicious. A few Directors considered that risk assessments could be done in a “statement of risks” in all Article IV reports. Many Directors felt that surveillance communication should be bolder and should avoid excessive hedging, recognizing that such an approach does mean a risk of being proved wrong. A number of Directors underscored the need for greater candor in the Fund’s assessment of risks to global financial stability emanating from advanced countries. It would be important to provide clear messages without undermining confidence and triggering adverse market reaction.
Macro-financial linkages. Increased attention to financial sector surveillance is beginning to pay off, particularly in identifying financial sector vulnerabilities. However, further progress is needed to improve assessments of the relative likelihood and impact of key financial stability risks, and to integrate analysis of financial sector and macroeconomic issues more generally, including across borders. For example, surveillance in the run up to the subprime crisis identified well a number of vulnerabilities, but failed to “connect the dots” and thereby take the full measure of the risks they posed in aggregate. A clear and flexible organizing framework for macro-financial surveillance will thus need to be developed and put in place. The forthcoming guidance on financial sector surveillance should also contribute to better mainstreaming best practices in this area. Also, the financial sector surveillance toolkit should be further enhanced, and high priority placed on improving mechanisms for early warning on risks to global financial stability.
To enhance financial sector surveillance, macro-financial expertise must be further built and used strategically. Most Directors saw merit in a risk-based approach, whereby allocation of expertise should be prioritized according to the criteria of systemic or regional importance, importance of vulnerabilities, and importance of financial development issues for present or prospective macroeconomic or external stability. Capacity for financial sector analysis should be further developed through new training programs and flexible human resource policies. Well-focused FSAPs continue to be important and should be better integrated into Article IV reports.
Multilateral perspective. Much more attention is being devoted to multilateral perspectives, but this work is not being used effectively enough and is not always well-matched with demand. As regards spillovers, surveillance needs to better place countries in the global context by discussing cross-border economic linkages more explicitly. Article IV consultations need to make full use of the conjunctural analysis in the World Economic Outlook (WEO), Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR), and Regional Economic Outlooks (REOs); analyze relevant transmission channels of cross-border risks; and discuss policy implications. Lessons from cross-country experience need to be brought out more effectively to inform Article IV consultations, for example, through more policy-oriented, illustrative case studies that discuss other countries’ experiences and draw concrete policy lessons. Cross-country findings from analytical work in the WEO, GFSR, and REOs also need to be more fully leveraged. Changing incentives and making cross-country knowledge more accessible, including through the review process, should help encourage more such analysis. Recent initiatives to bring together expertise across Fund departments on issues of broad interest were seen as useful in this context.
External stability and exchange rate assessments. Following the adoption of the 2007 Surveillance Decision, work on exchange rate issues has strengthened significantly. Most staff reports now describe the de facto exchange rate regime adequately, with advice on any recommended changes generally well supported. Nearly all reports provide a clear assessment of the exchange rate level, and in most cases, this is based on multiple indicators and techniques. However, there is widespread skepticism about the consistency of treatment across countries and the methodological soundness of exchange rate assessments. In addition, the so-called “fear of labeling” under the 2007 Decision may have weakened the candor of some assessments. Further efforts will be needed to ensure that these assessments are candid, evenhanded, and fully integrated into the broader assessment of external stability and overall macroeconomic policies—including the policy mix—and present transparently the analysis underlying the assessment. Greater consistency across countries in terms of the choice of methods and the presentation of the results was stressed. While recognizing the ongoing progress, a number of Directors stressed that further efforts are needed to refine the analytical toolkit for equilibrium exchange rate assessments. At the same time, many Directors were of the view that undue importance should not be attached to precise calculations, given the inherent methodological and data limitations. More generally, Directors stressed that challenges related to the implementation of the 2007 Surveillance Decision should be addressed expeditiously, and they considered that consistent implementation of the recently issued guidance should be helpful in this regard.
Priorities. To better meet stakeholder expectations and enhance the effectiveness of surveillance with reduced staff, trade-offs are inevitable, and priorities need to be assigned. A few Directors emphasized that surveillance, being one of the Fund’s core responsibilities, must be supported with the necessary resources. Most Directors broadly agreed that the four areas mentioned above should be given priority over the next few years. At the same time, existing areas of strength in macroeconomic policy analysis and recent gains—for example, in focus—should be preserved. Noting variations in the quality of staff reports across regional and income groups, many Directors emphasized that the review process should strive to ensure evenhandedness of treatment.
The current global financial crisis has clearly highlighted the need for the Fund to strengthen its macro-financial work, while complementing, and not overlapping with, the responsibilities of other international agencies in this area, such as the BIS and the FSF. A number of Directors considered that the Fund’s greater focus on exchange rate issues under the 2007 Surveillance Decision and global imbalances in recent years may have detracted from attention to macro-financial stability issues. At the same time, given that exchange rate surveillance is central to the Fund’s mandate, Directors stressed that the Fund must exercise strong surveillance over members’ exchange rate policies.
Communications. Communicating well is also key to effective surveillance. The policy dialogue with authorities is generally seen as fruitful and candid, but staff reports less uniformly so. A number of Directors were of the view that surveillance should strike a balance between the candor of public communications and the Fund’s role as a confidential advisor. Most Directors were generally open to exploring new formats for staff reports and alternative means of conveying their message, and welcomed efforts to improve the timeliness of reports. Staff reports should continue to cover follow-up to past Fund advice as a means of allowing for an assessment of both the appropriateness of the Fund’s advice and the member’s implementation of it. Different communication vehicles may be a source of confusion in communicating the Fund’s message, and some vehicles—for example, PINs—may be perceived as outdated. Surveillance messages need to be more concise—focused on a few key points—as well as clear, timely, and strategically targeted. On the whole, there was broad support for further staff work along these lines. Any changes requiring amendments to the transparency policy will be followed up during the transparency review.
Methodology. The methodology used to conduct this surveillance review, as described in Supplement 2, establishes a robust framework, and should be used in future surveillance reviews with further improvements. Some Directors also welcomed the use of an independent consultant as a component of the review.
Conclusion. Directors considered that the findings of this surveillance review provide a good basis for defining operational priorities, and looked forward to the upcoming discussion of the Statement of Surveillance Priorities (SSP), which would lay out the medium-term priorities for Fund surveillance. SUR/08/104, October 8, 2008
Statement on Surveillance Priorities
The Fund approves the attached Statement on Surveillance Priorities for the International Monetary Fund, 2008-2011. (SM/08/316, Rev. 1, 10/7/08)
Decision No. 14182-(08/89),
October 7, 2008
Attachment Surveillance Priorities for the International Monetary Fund, 2008-2011
In pursuit of its mandate to promote international monetary and financial stability, IMF surveillance will be guided through 2011 by the following priorities:
The global economy faces a period of severe financial distress and slower growth alongside the challenges of sharp commodity price changes and global imbalances. The following interrelated policy objectives will be key to return to an international environment more conducive to sustainable noninflationary growth:
Resolve financial market distress. Restore stability and minimize the adverse impact of the current crisis in financial markets on the real economy;
Strengthen the global financial system by upgrading domestic and cross-border regulation and supervision, especially in major financial centers, and by avoiding the exposure of capital-importing countries, including low-income countries, to excessive risks;
Adjust to sharp changes in commodity prices. React to commodity price shifts in domestically appropriate and globally consistent ways, with emphasis on keeping inflationary pressures in check in boom phases and minimizing risks that could arise when prices fall;
Promote the orderly reduction of global imbalances while minimizing adverse real and financial repercussions.
In coordination with other International Financial Institutions, the IMF shouldpromote a common understandingof the forces and linkages underlying these challenges;draw key lessonsfrom different experiences to share across the membership;provide clear advance warnings of risksto global economic and financial stability; andadvise on how best to use policy—in particular monetary, fiscal, exchange rate, and financial sector policies—in support of these objectives.
Risk assessment. Refine the tools necessary to provide clear early warnings to members. Thorough analysis of major risks to baseline projections (including, where appropriate, high-cost tail risks) and their policy implications should become more systematic;
Financial sector surveillance and real-financial linkages. Improve analysis of financial stability, including diagnostic tools; deepen understanding of linkages, including between markets and institutions; and ensure adequate discussion in surveillance reports;
Multilateral perspective. Bilateral surveillance to be informed systematically by analysis of inward spillovers; outward spillovers (where relevant); and cross-country knowledge (as useful); and,
Analysis of exchange rates and external stability risks. In the context of strengthening external stability analysis, integrate clearer and more robust exchange rate analysis, underpinned by strengthened methodologies, into the assessment of the overall policy mix.
The Executive Board has set the above priorities to foster multilateral collaboration and guide IMF management and staff in the conduct of surveillance. These priorities look ahead three years, but may be revised if circumstances warrant. They will guide the Fund’s work within the framework for surveillance provided by the Articles of Agreement and the relevant Board decisions, including the 2007 Decision on Bilateral Surveillance. Moreover, traditional areas of strength (such as fiscal policy and debt sustainability analysis) and relevant country-specific issues should not be overlooked.
The Executive Board is responsible for conducting, guiding and evaluating surveillance in order to ensure the achievement of these priorities. Management and staff are responsible for delivering on the operational priorities, subject to members’ cooperation in line with commitments under the Articles of Agreement. To foster progress toward economic priorities, management and staff are responsible for providing candid high-quality analysis and effective communication. The Managing Director will report: (i) regularly on actions toward priorities and readily visible results; and (ii) at the time of the next Triennial Surveillance Review on progress in attaining these priorities; management’s and staff’s contributions; and factors that impeded progress.
1. Review. The Executive Board has reviewed the procedures relating to the Fund’s surveillance over members’ exchange rate policies. These procedures, and the procedures for regular consultations under Article IV, will be reviewed again by the Executive Board in December 1979. The Executive Board will review the document “Surveillance over Exchange Rate Policies” at an appropriate time not later than April 1, 1980, as provided for in paragraph 2 of Decision No. 5392-(77/63), adopted April 29, 1977. …
Decision No. 6026-(79/13),
January 22, 1979,
as amended by Decision Nos. 10273-(93/15), January 29, 1993,
10364-(93/67), May 10, 1993, and
June 15, 2007
Summings Up and Concluding Remarks for Policy Items—Modification of Review and Finalization Process
The Executive Board approves the proposals with regard to the review and finalization of summings up and concluding remarks for policy items as set forth in EBAP/07/95 (6/20/07).
Decision No. A-12833-(07/55),
June 25, 2007
Annex – Approved Proposals Set Forth in EBAP/07/95
• The period for sending electronic comments on draft policy summings up should be extended from two hours to one full day, between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. This will provide the Secretary some room to prepare for the circulation of the draft summing up in the morning.
• The Secretary will inform the Board in advance as to when the draft summing up or concluding remarks on a policy item will be circulated for Directors’ comments.
• The Chair and the Secretary will be invited to use their discretion in deciding on when the draft summing up or concluding remarks should be read to the Board. In cases where the Board discussion has been particularly rich, the Secretary may need more time to incorporate the views of Directors expressed during the discussion, with the benefit of the transcript. In such cases, the Chair may choose to read the draft summing up in a future session instead of at the end of the Board meeting. To avoid complicating the Board’s agenda, it is envisaged that this procedure will be used selectively, only when the extra time is necessary to guarantee the quality and evenhandedness of the summing up.
Apart from the extended time frame for sending comments, the Secretary should continue with the current practice of handling Directors’ comments received via email on the basis of the record of the Board discussion. The current practice whereby the Secretary consults bilaterally with Executive Directors to discuss issues of their concern has been found useful and all Executive Directors are encouraged to use available channels of communication. This approach, which does not require an additional layer of bureaucracy, and would not entail extra work, is consistent with the maintenance of streamlined practices.
• The present distribution of summaries of grays should be maintained. The summaries of grays are meant to highlight selected points that warrant management’s attention as understood by the Secretary, and to list questions put to the staff for ease of reference. The summaries are not meant to reflect all the views raised in the grays and cannot substitute for the reading of all the grays by the staff involved. Circulating the summaries more widely for the use of Directors would likely require that the views and nuances be captured more comprehensively, and with greater attention to the range of positions. This would make the document less concise and probably require an earlier cut-off time for submitting grays.
• The Secretary will review the text of the Compendium of Executive Board Work Procedures with a view to clarifying further: (i) when the Board is expected to meet in an informal seminar format and in a formal session; and (ii) the distinction between summings up and concluding remarks. The Compendium is reviewed periodically and this modification will be reflected in the next revision.
Bilateral Surveillance—Implementation of the Decision—Transitional Issues
In the context of the application of the Decision No. 13919-(07/51) (the 2007 Surveillance Decision), which came into effect on June 15, 2007, there are essentially three categories of countries. With reference to those, the following treatment is provided for:
Category 1: Countries for which consultations have been concluded by the Executive Board as of June 29, 2007, including Madagascar and Kazakhstan. Such cases will stand as “Article IV Consultations Concluded” under the 1977 Surveillance Decision.
Category 2: Countries for which missions commence after June 15, 2007. In such cases the 2007 Surveillance Decision shall apply.
Category 3: Other countries for which, as of June 15, 2007, the process has commenced and consultations are at different stages before their completion, e.g., (i) mission discussions have been completed; (ii) staff papers are under preparation after the completion of the mission; or (iii) staff papers have already been circulated to the Board. Such cases will be re-examined by staff and Management and if, with respect to a member in this category, the Managing Director, after informing the Executive Director for the member concerned, informs the Executive Board that, in his view:
(a) there are no grounds for concern as to whether the member’s external position is in a state of external stability or as to whether its policies are promoting external stability, the staff report for that member may be taken up for discussion in the Executive Board without further discussion by staff with the relevant member, and the Executive Board will complete that consultation and reach conclusions in accordance with the provisions of the 2007 Surveillance Decision; or
(b) there are grounds for concern as to whether the member’s external position is in a state of external stability or as to whether its policies are promoting external stability, either (i) additional discussions will be required between staff and the member, the modalities of which will be determined in consultation with the member, or (ii) if the member so requests, a fresh full range of consultation discussions will take place, and the Executive Board will complete that consultation and reach conclusions in accordance with the provisions of the 2007 Surveillance Decision. (SM/07/222, Sup. 1, 6/29/07)
Decision No. 13941-(07/56),
June 29, 2007
Article IV Consultation Documentation—Recent Economic Developments
Article IV consultation documentation shall no longer include Recent Economic Development reports. Instead, the staff could incorporate, as needed, the appropriate information on recent economic developments in a Selected Issues paper as analytical background for key policy issues.
Decision No. 12661-(02/6),
January 22, 2002
Summing Up by the Chairman—Biennial Review of the Implementation of the Fund’s Surveillance over Members’ Exchange Rate Policies and of the 1977 Surveillance Decision; and Transmittal of Fund Documents to Other International Organizations Executive Board Meeting 97/30, March 28, 1997
Directors expressed broad satisfaction with current surveillance procedures and emphasized that the principle of annual consultations represented a cornerstone in ensuring the continuity of Fund surveillance. At the same time, Directors recognized the need for flexibility in Fund procedures to ensure an effective focus of Fund surveillance, particularly in the context of the Fund’s strained resources. In considering the proposals contained in my buff statement on consultation cycles, Directors encouraged flexibility regarding consultation frequency, mission size and documentation, particularly in cases where economic developments appeared to be on a positive track. In particular:
Directors generally agreed that greater use should be made of longer consultation cycles to allow for redirecting resources toward priority areas. They agreed that the staff and management, on the basis of criteria suggested in my BUFF statement, should periodically identify those countries for which annual consultations will be held and those countries for which consultations were not expected to be held within the next year. In cases of consultations on a longer than annual cycle, the Executive Director for the country concerned would, of course, be consulted, and the consent of the member would be needed.
Summing Up by the Acting Chairman—Biennial Review of the Implementation of the Fund’s Surveillance and of the 1977 Surveillance Decision Executive Board Meeting 00/24, March 10, 2000
Most Directors agreed with the current selective approach to the dissemination and use of early warning system models, given the state of the art in this area as well as the sensitivity and imprecision of the results. They encouraged staff to discuss the results of EWS models with country authorities, and to keep the Board informed of these discussions. They … thought that this suggests that the results of these models have to be tempered with a good deal of judgment and, in any event, used selectively and carefully. Directors supported stepping up collaboration with the World Bank in the analysis of corporate sector vulnerability, with a view toward identifying useful operational indicators. They encouraged staff to continue to look for signs of linkages between potential weaknesses in the corporate sector and external vulnerability, following up, if warranted, on a case-by-case basis.
Summing Up by the Chairman—Biennial Review of the Implementation of the Fund’s Surveillance and of the 1977 Surveillance Decision Executive Board Meeting 02/38, April 4 and 5, 2002
The Focus of Surveillance
9. Notwithstanding the satisfactory overall record with respect to the balance achieved generally between coverage and focus, Directors considered that there remains some further scope for enhancing selectivity in individual cases and areas. Trade policy, including domestic trade-distorting subsidies and non-tariff barriers, is one such area. Coverage of trade policies is critical in countries where serious trade distortions hamper macroeconomic prospects, as well as in countries whose trade policies have global or regional implications—for example, where trade policies in the major industrial countries affect market access for developing countries, or where trade policies have a significant impact on countries in that region. Such concentration would simultaneously strengthen the coverage of trade issues and make surveillance more focused.
The Depth of Surveillance
14. Directors observed that structural issues outside the Fund’s traditional areas of expertise may, in some instances, be key to a country’s economic situation and, thus, priority issues for Fund surveillance. In those cases, most Directors reiterated the importance of drawing on the expertise of the appropriate outside institutions and, in particular, of making effective use of input from the World Bank.
15. Directors expressed support for the current modalities of multilateral surveillance. They noted that the semi-annual discussions on the World Economic Outlook, the more frequent World Economic Market Development sessions, and the quarterly discussions on Global Financial Stability provide appropriate and flexible tools to review the rapidly evolving conditions of the world economy and global financial markets. Directors particularly welcomed the enhancements to the multilateral surveillance of capital markets, which have been made possible by the creation of the International Capital Markets Department. …
Surveillance in Program Countries
16. Directors agreed that surveillance and Fund-supported programs share the same broad objective, namely promotion or restoration of macroeconomic stability, external viability, and sustainable growth. Nevertheless, in countries with Fund-supported programs, as in other countries, there is a need for periodic reassessment of economic conditions and policies. This requires a stepping back from the program framework. …
17. There was broad agreement that a radical separation of surveillance and program activities, for instance through separate mission teams, is not operationally feasible. Most Directors noted that such an approach would entail significant resource costs, would complicate communication with the authorities, and could give rise to inconsistent policy advice. At the same time, most Directors felt that clear guidance on the role and nature of surveillance in program countries could help strengthen surveillance in these countries. …
18. Directors agreed that better timing of Article IV consultations in program countries would be one way of enhancing their effectiveness, as a comprehensive assessment of economic developments, prospects, and policies is more useful at some points in the program cycle than at others. For example, consultations are most valuable before a program is negotiated, when a program has moved off-track, or when a major change in the program strategy is envisaged between programs. …
21. Directors generally agreed that staff-monitored programs (SMPs) constitute a useful vehicle for closer monitoring of countries’ policies outside a Fund arrangement. They welcomed the improvements in the design and documentation of SMPs since the 1998 discussion of the draft guidelines. Directors noted, however, that less progress has been made in the reporting of performance under SMPs.
22. Most Directors felt that inadequate reporting on performance is of particular concern in cases where the SMP is intended to provide signals to private and/or official creditors. Therefore, they considered that, since SMPs do not require upper credit tranche conditionality and do not entail Fund endorsement of the member’s policies, transparency on performance under the SMP is essential to allow creditors and donors to assess the quality of the policy adjustment under the SMP. Many Directors supported a strengthening of the performance reporting guidelines and greater transparency. However, several other Directors expressed concern that introducing a presumption of publication in these cases may be inconsistent with the Fund’s transparency policy and may, in fact, further blur the distinction between SMPs and Fund arrangements. Against this background, Directors agreed that a further discussion of signaling SMPs would be useful. Some Directors suggested that a different instrument may be appropriate in signaling cases.
Summing Up by the Chairman—Biennial Review of the Implementation of the Fund’s Surveillance and of the 1977 Surveillance Decision—Follow Up Executive Board Meeting 02/76, July 15, 2002
1. Directors welcomed the opportunity to follow up on a number of outstanding issues from their discussion of the biennial surveillance review on April 4 and 5, 2002, and to consider the Draft Operational Guidance Note for Staff on Surveillance.
3. Regarding the effectiveness of surveillance, Directors generally agreed that the proposal to strengthen the coverage of the authorities’ response to past policy advice in Article IV staff reports is a useful, first step towards enhanced assessment of the impact of the Fund’s policy advice. Many Directors suggested that such reviews also include a fuller account of the authorities’ views on the policy advice received from the Fund, and a discussion of the reasons for their policy actions. Directors also underscored the importance of assessing the quality of the Fund’s advice, and, in that context, a few Directors suggested that an annual assessment of the impact of the Fund’s advice might be considered as a framework for examining the effectiveness of Fund surveillance. … Going forward, several Directors underscored that discussions with member country authorities should be undertaken in a spirit of consultation, based on mutual trust and confidence, and reflecting the preparedness of missions to discuss alternative policy options that could deliver similar overall macroeconomic results.
4. Most Directors saw the proposed guidance defining the role and nature of surveillance in program countries as a useful clarification, whose consistent implementation should ensure that surveillance in all program countries is conducted with an appropriately fresh perspective. Several Directors felt that greater formal separation of surveillance and program activities would be desirable. However, many Directors, while recognizing the usefulness of stepping back from a pure review of performance under the program during surveillance missions, cautioned against a radical separation, such as systematically differentiating between surveillance and UFR mission teams, noting the important synergies between surveillance and program reviews. At the same time, Directors noted that management retains the prerogative to alter the composition of Article IV consultation teams to meet the needs of particular country circumstances. The Board will consider the need for further work on surveillance in program countries, taking into account experience with the implementation of the proposals in the Guidance Note.
5. Directors supported the proposal to move countries receiving Fund financial assistance to a 24-month consultation cycle, subject to the qualifications outlined in the draft decision (SM/02/184, Supplement 1). Some Directors stressed the need for caution in this regard, noting the role that surveillance can play in identifying problems in program countries at an early stage. Several Directors underscored the need for flexibility in consultation cycles to accommodate country-specific circumstances. It was understood that thorough surveillance exercises on longer cycles, coupled with frequent contacts under the program, should strengthen surveillance in program countries.
6. Directors generally agreed with the clarification of the existing policy on the production of statistical appendices as background documentation for Article IV consultation reports, and with the proposal to retain this policy. Statistical appendices will thus continue to be produced for every consultation, except for countries where comprehensive economic data are readily and freely available from an alternative source.
8. The Guidance Note for staff will be finalized in light of today’s discussion, and will be updated from time to time to reflect the outcome of Board discussions on matters pertaining to the conduct of effective surveillance. …
Biennial Review of Implementation of Fund Surveillance and of 1977 Surveillance Review—Changes in Article IV Consultation Cycles
1. Each member presently receiving financial assistance under a Fund arrangement shall immediately be placed on the 24-month consultation cycle and, in future, whenever a Fund arrangement is approved for a member, that member shall automatically be placed on the 24-month consultation cycle. Article IV consultations with such members shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures specified below.
2. Article IV consultations with a member receiving financial assistance under a Fund arrangement will be expected to be completed within 24 months of the date of completion of the previous Article IV consultation with that member, except that the consultation cycle will be shortened under the following circumstances:
(a) where the most recent Article IV consultation with the member was completed 6 months or more before the date of approval of the relevant arrangement, the next Article IV consultation with that member will be expected to be completed by the later of (i) 6 months after the date of approval of the arrangement, and (ii) 12 months, plus a grace period of three months, after the date of completion of the previous Article IV consultation; and
(b) where, with respect to a member whose circumstances do not fall within paragraph 2(a), a program review under an arrangement for that member is not completed by the date for completion specified in the arrangement, the next Article IV consultation with that member will be expected to be completed by the later of (i) 6 months after the date specified in the arrangement for completion of the review, and (ii) 12 months, plus a grace period of 3 months, after the date of completion of the previous Article IV consultation, provided, however, that, where the relevant program review is completed before the later of the dates specified in (i) and (ii) above, the next Article IV consultation will be expected to be completed within 24 months of the date of completion of the previous Article IV consultation with that member.
3. Upon the expiration or cancellation of an arrangement for a member, that member shall automatically be placed on the standard 12-month consultation cycle and the next Article IV consultation with that member will be expected to be completed by the later of (i) 6 months after such expiration or cancellation, and (ii) 12 months, plus a grace period of 3 months, after the date of completion of the previous Article IV consultation, but in no event later than 24 months after the completion of the previous Article IV consultation. (SM/02/184, Sup. 1, 6/18/02, Sup. 3, 9/5/02)
4. Whenever a Policy Support Instrument (“PSI”) is approved for a member, that member shall automatically be placed on a 24-month Article IV consultation cycle. If, however, the last Article IV consultation was completed 6 months or more before the approval of the PSI, the next consultation is expected to be completed by the later of 12 months (plus the usual 3-month grace period) after the last consultation or 6 months after the approval of the PSI. Following termination of a PSI—whether through expiry or lapse—the member is automatically placed back on the standard 12-month cycle and the first consultation is expected to be completed by the later of 6 months after the end of the PSI or 12 months (plus a grace period of 3 months) after the completion of the previous consultation but in no event later than 24 months after the completion of the previous consultation. (SM/05/343, Sup. 1, 9/30/05)
Decision No. 12794-(02/76),
July 15, 2002,
as amended by Decision Nos. 12854-(02/96), September 12, 2002,
October 5, 2005
Summing Up by the Acting Chair—Review of Data Provision to the Fund for Surveillance Purposes Executive Board Meeting 04/25, March 15, 20041
Executive Directors welcomed the further opportunity to review progress in the provision of data to the Fund by members. Better data not only support strengthened Fund surveillance and crisis prevention, but they also allow members to formulate sounder economic policies. In this context, Directors expressed their appreciation to the staff and country authorities for the substantial progress achieved in recent years in improving data provision to the Fund. They reaffirmed the principles underlying the policy on data provision to the Fund for surveillance purposes, namely: that timely, accurate, and comprehensive data are essential for effective surveillance; that data needs vary according to members’ circumstances; and that data requirements evolve over time with changes in the scope and focus of surveillance.
In taking stock of developments in the coverage and frequency of data provision by members, Directors were encouraged by the finding that a rising share of the membership now provides data that are deemed adequate for Fund surveillance, and that most members—including virtually all countries with market access—now report core statistical indicators on a timely basis. At the same time, Directors recognized that in just under one-third of the Fund’s membership—consisting mostly of countries with small populations or low per capita incomes—severe data deficiencies continue to hamper policy analysis and Fund surveillance. A number of Directors considered that efforts to strengthen data provision, going forward, should focus on these countries. Directors acknowledged that, in many cases, more time will be needed to overcome long-standing statistical capacity constraints, requiring national efforts and international support calibrated to the circumstances of each case.
Directors viewed favorably the current framework for data provision to the Fund, and agreed that it should be essentially preserved. They noted that the core statistical indicators had been replaced by a set of common indicators required for surveillance, following the recent decision adopted by the Executive Board pursuant to Article VIII, Section 5. Directors supported addressing data quality issues in the Statistical Issues Appendix based on available Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSCs). Most Directors also agreed that the table of common indicators required for surveillance should include summary assessments of data quality when available from data modules of ROSCs. Some Directors were concerned about the adequacy of data ROSCs for providing assessments of data quality, especially because the quality of the individual common indicators is not directly assessed in the ROSCs, and about the risk that these assessments could be inappropriately viewed as a rating of members’ statistics.
Directors called for strengthened implementation of the framework for data provision to the Fund. In particular, they stressed that Article IV consultation reports should identify data shortcomings, indicate where the analysis of key issues is significantly affected by these shortcomings or where important policy conclusions may be subject to unusual uncertainty due to data weaknesses, and recommend remedial actions where data prove inadequate for effective surveillance. In general, Directors encouraged staff to seek full compliance with existing guidelines on treatment of data issues in staff reports, while noting that coverage of these issues will of course vary from report to report, depending upon the adequacy of data provision to the Fund in each case. Most Directors supported the continued inclusion in Article IV summings up of a paragraph assessing the adequacy of data provision to the Fund, in particular in cases where there are shortcomings.
Directors also called for greater elaboration of remedial strategies in Article IV staff reports for countries where severe and long-standing data deficiencies hamper policy analysis and Fund surveillance. They emphasized that these member countries should be encouraged to participate in the GDDS, which provides a structured framework for statistical improvement. Directors stressed the importance of technical assistance to strengthen these countries’ statistical systems as well as the need for country authorities to demonstrate ownership of these institution-building efforts by committing the necessary local resources. Generally, Directors were of the view that technical assistance priorities in the area of statistics should continue to be guided by identified deficiencies in data provision to the Fund.
Directors had a wide-ranging discussion on how best to meet the data needs of the Fund, as the framework for Fund surveillance evolves and gives rise to new data provision requirements. They focused on the data implications of the work the Fund is doing in four areas to strengthen Fund surveillance, namely, the balance sheet approach, the framework for debt sustainability assessments, liquidity management, and financial soundness indicators for financial sector surveillance. Most Directors agreed that a priority in the period ahead is to improve data availability to conduct balance sheet analysis, as contemplated in these four areas of work. They emphasized the importance of breakdowns of assets and liabilities to gauge currency and maturity mismatches in sectoral balance sheets and the need to address weaknesses in public debt data.
Directors recognized that improving the availability of data needed for balance sheet analysis will involve costs for member countries and the Fund. In this context, some Directors emphasized the need to balance the benefits of improved data against the resource costs involved, including the costs to member countries. Taking account of these considerations, most Directors endorsed a pragmatic action plan to improve data availability to serve the needs of the various balance sheet initiatives. This plan involves (a) the continuation of current efforts to improve external debt data, foreign direct investment data, and compilation of financial soundness indicators; and (b) the seven additional steps outlined in paragraph 43 of the staff report.1 It was suggested that a reduced set of core financial soundness indicators be included within the SDDS.
Directors expressed satisfaction that significantly increased dissemination of macroeconomic data by the Fund has been a vital part of efforts in recent years to strengthen the international financial architecture. To minimize the risk of misperceptions about the accuracy and reliability of Fund data that may arise from the publication of different data series for a given variable, Directors endorsed several approaches. These will include: efforts to strengthen metadata and explain data differences; work to promote common sourcing and better sharing of data across the Fund; and inclusion of a general disclaimer on published staff reports. Directors generally supported the acceleration and extension of the Integrated Monetary Database Project, pointing to the prospective significant medium-term efficiency of such an exercise.
Directors reviewed the resource implications of the measures endorsed in this review and, more broadly, of steps to improve availability of data for policy analysis and Fund surveillance. They noted that many of the steps to strengthen availability of data are compatible with medium-term budget plans, if the current pace of implementation is maintained. Some other steps—particularly the expanded reporting of public domestic debt data, enhanced collection of monetary and financial data, and review of the International Financial Statistics (IFS)—will involve additional costs. The majority of the Board felt that these additional costs should be accommodated within the existing budget envelope. The preferred course of action, for these Directors, is to boost the efficiency of existing data initiatives and to prioritize statistical activities. In this context, it was suggested that the review of the contents of the IFS could be delayed. A number of other Directors, however, were in favor of expanding the resource envelope to accommodate the additional costs, emphasizing the need to protect the effectiveness and high quality of the Fund’s data work while not crowding out other important activities, including data ROSCs.
Directors agreed that the next review of data provision to the Fund should be conducted in about two years’ time.1
Surveillance: Procedures—Implementation of Three-Month Period
The Executive Board approves the proposed method of applying the three-month rule for implementing the procedures for surveillance, set forth in EBD/83/161 [below].
Decision No. 7427-(83/83),
June 8, 1983
The document entitled “Surveillance over Exchange Rate Policies,” attached to Decision No. 5392-(77/63), includes certain Procedures for Surveillance. Of these, Procedure II states that “Not later than three months after the termination of discussions between the member and the staff, the Executive Board shall reach conclusions and thereby complete the consultation under Article IV.” This three-month period begins from the last day of discussions between the authorities and the staff mission and it is counted off on a calendar basis. Accordingly, the first Board day (viz., Monday, Wednesday, or Friday) upon the completion of the three-month period is regarded as the deadline for Executive Board discussion. Sometimes Executive Board consideration and completion of the Article IV consultation are delayed beyond the three-month deadline (see SM/83/43, 3/1/83, pages 29–30), and in such cases, Board approval is usually sought on a lapse-of-time basis for an extension of the period. The procedure is administered flexibly in the sense that if Board discussion is scheduled just one or two Board days after the deadline, the three-month waiver paper seeking Board approval is not necessarily circulated.
However, there are certain periods during the year when Board meetings would normally be avoided for the convenience of Executive Directors. For example, in 1983 Board meetings were not scheduled in the weeks of February 7–11 and April 25–29 because of Interim and Development Committee meetings, respectively. For the same reason, Board meetings are not likely to be scheduled during August 8–19, 1983 because of the informal Board recess and during approximately September 16–30 because of the Annual Meetings and ancillary meetings, including caucus meetings. It would be appropriate and convenient to recognize these recurrent and normal gaps in the Board’s schedule when applying the three-month rule. Accordingly, if a three-month deadline falls in a period such as one of those mentioned above when a Board meeting would normally not be scheduled, the Friday of the week immediately following such a period would be regarded as the applicable deadline for the purposes of the rule. …
The Acting Chair’s Summing Up—The Fund’s Response to the 2007-08 Financial Crisis—Stocktaking and Collaboration with the Financial Stability Forum Executive Board Meeting 08/88, October 6, 2008
Executive Directors welcomed the opportunity to take stock of the Fund’s response to date to the international financial crisis that began last year. The financial crisis is testing the resilience of the global financial system. Directors commended the staff’s efforts to assess unfolding developments through the GFSR and the WEO, and, in collaboration with other international agencies, to identify measures that will strengthen national policy frameworks and the international financial system. They stressed the need for continued close collaboration among national authorities, standard setters, international financial agencies, and the private sector to deal with the crisis.
Directors noted that the Fund will have a key role to play as the leading international institution for macro-financial analysis, with a global mandate and unique capacity to help prevent and resolve international financial crises and disseminate best practices. The Fund will need to be an articulate participant in the public debate, while at the same time safeguarding and strengthening its role as a confidential advisor to all its members.
Directors supported the recent increased focus of the Fund’s surveillance and financial sector work on the policy challenges raised by the financial crisis. They welcomed, in particular, the increased attention paid to macro-financial linkages and contagion risks, financial safety nets, and crisis preparedness and management. They also emphasized that the Fund should give greater priority to assisting members in identifying and remedying gaps in financial regulation and supervision. Directors considered streamlined and risk-focused FSAPs that are better integrated with Article IV consultations, along with coordinated assessments of the GFSR and the WEO, to be key instruments for the Fund’s enhanced financial sector work.
Directors concurred that the Fund and the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) have complementary and mutually reinforcing roles. The FSF plays a key role by bringing together senior national policymakers, international supervisory and regulatory agencies, and central banks. The Fund, for its part, is uniquely placed to draw synergies from its multilateral, regional, and bilateral surveillance activities. The Fund is also best positioned to integrate financial sector assessments with macroeconomic stability analyses, and to encourage and disseminate best practices in the context of its bilateral surveillance. Given the enhanced involvement of the Fund and other institutions in financial sector work, many Directors saw the need for a clearer multilateral framework for overarching macro-financial analysis and coordinated solutions, and suggested that, given its near universal membership, the IMF should aim to provide both the institutional and the analytical backing for such an effort. These Directors suggested that the IMF could provide a platform for members to work toward such a multilateral framework. Some Directors stressed that the Fund should concentrate on its comparative advantage and enhance its crisis prevention instruments, particularly surveillance, macro-financial analysis, and monitoring implementation of key standards and policy recommendations.
Directors were encouraged that Fund staff has been working closely with the FSF since its establishment, including through direct participation in FSF working groups, projects, and outreach efforts. They saw merit in strengthening that collaboration and in exploring concrete modalities for doing so, including with respect to financial stability assessments and further exploiting opportunities for joint Fund/FSF outreach. In this context, the importance of maintaining flexible and informal modalities was stressed.
Looking ahead, Directors stressed that the Fund should continue to enhance its work on financial stability and macro-financial linkages, consistent with its mandate and strategic priorities, and focusing in areas where it adds most value and complements the work of other institutions. They welcomed the ongoing efforts to deepen the Fund’s expertise across a range of policy areas relevant to macro-financial stability. Directors noted that the Fund’s value added stems both from in-house technical expertise in core financial sector policy areas, and from the Fund’s capacity to put regulatory and supervisory policy challenges into a broader macro-financial stability context. Directors also emphasized that the Fund needs to better integrate its country-specific surveillance with its regional and global analyses, further sharpen its high-frequency market analyses and stability assessments, and maintain an ongoing dialogue with market participants in order to strengthen its early warning capabilities. Many Directors reiterated the importance of addressing the Fund’s financing role in the context of the current crisis in a timely and flexible way, and called for accelerated progress toward a decision on a new liquidity instrument. BUFF/08/148, October 8, 2008
The Acting Chair’s Summing Up—Sovereign Wealth Funds—The Santiago Principles—Generally Accepted Principles and Practices Developed by the International Working Group Executive Board Meeting 08/87, October 3, 2008
Executive Directors commended the International Working Group of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IWG) for its intensive and collaborative efforts, which have led to a consensus on a voluntary set of generally accepted principles and practices (GAPPs)—also known as the Santiago Principles. The Principles represent a significant achievement by a group of 23 diverse countries with sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). Directors welcomed the professional role played by the Fund staff in facilitating, coordinating, and providing secretarial support to the Group. They also appreciated the contribution by the OECD and the World Bank, and the engagement of recipients of SWF investments to maintain an open investment regime.
Directors viewed the development of the Santiago Principles as a good example of collaborative engagement between countries with SWFs and the recipient countries. It is the first time that SWFs have set out a comprehensive framework to guide their institutional arrangements, governance structures, and investment decisions. The Principles, together with the SWF survey conducted by the Fund staff, also provide a useful point of reference for policymakers, financial markets, and the general public.
Directors stressed that the principles are voluntary in nature, and that their implementation is subject to home country laws, regulations, requirements, and obligations. Most Directors agreed that the Santiago Principles appropriately recognize a number of key elements. In particular, the Principles recognize the need for:
• First, sound and clear legal frameworks, and a governance framework that ensures separation of responsibilities and promotes operational independence in the management of SWFs and accountability, including through high-quality auditing and accounting standards;
• Second, SWF operations to be conducted in compliance with applicable regulatory and disclosure requirements in the countries in which they operate;
• Third, close coordination between the SWF’s activities and macroeconomic policy formulation where the SWF’s activities have direct domestic macroeconomic implications, and provision of data to the government, or other relevant agencies, for inclusion where appropriate in macroeconomic datasets;
• Fourth, the publication of relevant financial information relating to the SWF to demonstrate its economic and financial orientation;
• Fifth, investment decisions to be based on economic and financial grounds;
• Sixth, adequate risk management frameworks and regular internal reporting of investment performance;
• Seventh, public disclosure of an SWF’s general approach to voting securities of listed entities; and
• Eighth, regular review of the implementation of the Santiago Principles by the SWF or by its owner or governing bodies.
Most Directors believed that the implementation of the Santiago Principles by countries with SWFs will improve the understanding of SWF investment operations, and help alleviate concerns raised by countries that are recipients of SWF investments. This will help foster trust and confidence in the global operations of SWFs, and strengthen an open environment for cross-border investments. From the perspective of the SWF countries, the Principles provide SWFs with strong incentives to hold themselves to high standards. They will be helpful, in particular, in guiding the management of countries’ fiscal and external surpluses through SWFs in a sound, prudent, and accountable manner. In this way, the Principles should help to further strengthen the stabilizing benefits that SWFs bring to the global financial markets.
Notwithstanding the progress achieved, the IWG recognizes the need to keep the Santiago Principles under review as capital markets develop and sovereign institutional arrangements evolve, and to work to further improve the Principles over time. In particular, several aspects of the Principles could benefit from further work, such as those relating to the provision of comprehensive and reliable information about SWF activities, and potential risks to investment operations and SWF balance sheets. In this respect, a number of Directors encouraged SWFs to work toward public disclosure of their financial information, including annual reports and ex post voting records. Some other Directors stressed the need to ensure a level playing field vis-à-vis other institutional investors. A few Directors also underscored that, to preserve full ownership of the Principles by the SWFs, it will be important to continue with the voluntary approach going forward.
The issue of how to monitor the implementation of the Santiago Principles remains to be agreed upon by the owners of SWFs. Directors welcomed the intention of the IWG to consider establishing a Standing Group that could review the Principles and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas among SWFs and with recipient countries, as well as examine ways in which aggregate information on SWF operations could be collected and made available to the public. If established, it will be important for the Standing Group to take full cognizance of the relevance of the macroeconomic and financial stability perspectives in its work.
Directors stressed the importance of clear and nondiscriminatory policies by recipient countries toward SWF investments. They welcomed the progress being made by the OECD in this area, and encouraged continued dialogue and coordination between the OECD and SWFs. Directors also noted that several countries with SWFs are also becoming recipients of investments from other SWF countries. They looked forward to the guidelines by the OECD for recipient countries.
Most Directors agreed that the Fund staff should continue to play a constructive role in support of the work of the IWG. Most Directors also felt that the Fund staff can play a helpful role in facilitating the activities of the Standing Group once it is established. Some Directors emphasized, however, that, in the current tight budgetary environment facing the Fund, staff resources should remain focused on strategic priorities. A few Directors suggested that the possible modalities of future Fund involvement should be worked out in light of the experience gained with the Standing Group, and with the updated guidelines for recipient countries. BUFF/08/151, October 9, 2008
Surveillance over Monetary and Exchange Rate Policies: Members of Euro Area
The Executive Board approves the modalities for conducting surveillance over the monetary and exchange rate policies of the members of the euro area, as set out in SM/98/257 [below].
Decision No. 11846-(98/125),
December 9, 1998,
effective December 11, 1998
• The current frequency of Article IV consultations with individual euro-area countries, which are generally on the standard 12-month cycle, would be maintained, at least during the initial period of Stage 3 of EMU.1
• There would be twice-yearly staff discussions with EU institutions responsible for common policies in the euro area.2 For practical reasons, these discussions would be expected to be held separately from the discussions with individual euro-area countries, but would be considered an integral part of the Article IV process for each member. The discussions with individual euro-area countries would be clustered, to the extent possible, around the discussions with the relevant EU institutions.
• There would be an annual staff report and Board discussion on “The Monetary and Exchange Rate Policies of Euro-Area Countries in the Context of the Article IV Consultations with these Countries,” which would be considered part of the Article IV consultation process with individual euro-area countries. The paper would also cover economic policies from a regional perspective to provide an adequate setting for the discussions on monetary and exchange rate policies.3 A report on the second (follow-up) set of discussions would also be issued to the Board for information and to provide adequate context for bilateral consultations with euro-area countries that did not coincide broadly with the annual Board discussion on the euro area.
• There would be a summing up of the conclusion of the Board’s annual discussion on “The Monetary and Exchange Rate Policies of the Euro Area Countries in the Context of the Article IV Consultations with these Countries.” It would be cross-referenced in the summings up for the Article IV consultations with euro-area countries, which would be given at the conclusion of the Article IV process for each country. This approach would have the advantage of recognizing clearly the obligation of euro-area countries to consult with the Fund in this context. …
Modalities for Surveillance over Euro-Area Policies in Context of Article IV Consultations with Member Countries
The current frequency of Article IV consultations with individual euro-area countries, which are generally on the standard 12-month cycle, will be maintained.
There will be twice-yearly staff discussions with EU institutions responsible for common policies in the euro area. These discussions will be held separately from the discussions with individual euro-area countries, but are considered an integral part of the Article IV process for each member. The discussions with individual euro-area countries will be clustered, to the extent possible, around the discussions with the relevant EU institutions.
There will be an annual staff report and Board discussion on Euro-Area Policies in the Context of the Article IV Consultations with Member Countries, which will be considered part of the Article IV consultation process with individual members. In addition to monetary and exchange rate policies, the staff report will also cover from a regional perspective other economic policies relevant for Fund surveillance. Staff will report informally to the Board on the second round of discussions with EU institutions to provide adequate context for bilateral consultations with euro-area countries that do not coincide broadly with the annual Board discussion on the euro area.
There will be a summing up of the conclusion of the Board’s annual discussion on Euro-Area Policies in the Context of the Article IV Consultations with Member Countries. It will be incorporated by reference into the summings-up for the Article IV consultations with individual Euro-Area members that take place before the next Board discussion of the Euro-Area common policies.1 To the extent that the summing up for the euro area covers economic policies that apply to all EU member countries and that are considered relevant for Fund surveillance, the pertinent parts of the summing up for the euro area could also be referred to in the bilateral Article IV consultations with EU member countries that are not part of the euro area. (SM/02/359, 11/21/02).
Decision No. 12899-(02/119),
December 4, 2002,
as amended by Decision No. 14062-(08/15)
February 12, 2008
Modalities for Surveillance over Central African Economic and Monetary Union Policies in Context of Article IV Consultations with Member Countries
Staff will hold annual discussions with the regional institutions responsible for common policies in the Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CEMAC). These discussions will be held separately from the discussions with individual CEMAC members.
There will be an annual staff report and Board discussion of the common policies of CEMAC. Both staff’s discussions with CEMAC institutions and the Board discussion of the annual staff report will be considered an integral part of the Article IV consultation with each member of CEMAC.
In addition to common policies in CEMAC that are relevant for surveillance, including monetary and exchange rate policies, the annual staff report will cover from a regional perspective other economic policies relevant for Fund surveillance for which responsibility remains at the national level. There will be a summing up of the conclusion of the Board’s annual discussion on CEMAC’s common policies. It will be incorporated by reference into the summings-up for the Article IV consultations with individual CEMAC members that take place before the next annual Board discussion of CEMAC’s common policies.1 The Board discussions for the Article IV consultations with individual CEMAC members will be clustered, to the extent possible, around the Board discussion on the common policies of CEMAC.
If considered necessary by the Managing Director, staff will hold a second round of discussions during the year with regional institutions and report to the Board informally on these discussions to provide adequate context for bilateral consultations with the individual CEMAC members that do not coincide broadly with the annual Board discussion on the CEMAC’s policies.
The frequency of Article IV consultations with individual CEMAC members shall be determined in accordance with the Board decisions on consultation cycles. (SM/05/429, 12/22/05)
Staff reports and related documents pertaining to Fund surveillance under Article IV concerning (i) the common monetary and exchange rate policies of CEMAC, and (ii) the policies of each individual Fund member that forms part of CEMAC, shall be communicated to the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) at the same time the relevant staff report is made available to the Executive Board, provided, however, that a staff report or related document concerning the policies of an individual Fund member will only be shared with BEAC with that member’s consent.1
Decision No. 13654-(06/1),
January 6, 2006,
as amended by Decision No. 14059-(08/15),
February 12, 2008
Modalities for Surveillance over Eastern Caribbean Currency Union Policies in Context of Article IV Consultations with Member Countries
Staff will hold annual discussions with the regional institutions responsible for common policies in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). These discussions will be held separately from the discussions with individual ECCU members.
There will be an annual staff report and Board discussion of the common policies of ECCU. Both staff’s discussions with ECCU institutions and the Board discussion of the annual staff report will be considered an integral part of the Article IV consultation with each member.
In addition to common policies in ECCU that are relevant for surveillance, including monetary and exchange rate policies, the annual staff report will cover from a regional perspective other economic policies relevant for Fund surveillance for which responsibility remains at the national level. There will be a summing up of the conclusion of the Board’s annual discussion on ECCU’s common policies. It will be incorporated by reference into the summings-up for the Article IV consultations with individual ECCU members that take place before the next annual Board discussion of ECCU’s common policies.1 The Board discussions for the Article IV consultations with individual members will be clustered, to the extent possible, around the Board discussion on the common policies of ECCU.
If considered necessary by the Managing Director, staff will hold a second round of discussions during the year with regional institutions and report to the Board informally on these discussions to provide adequate context for bilateral consultations with the individual members that do not coincide broadly with the annual Board discussion on the ECCU’s policies.
The frequency of Article IV consultations with individual members shall be determined in accordance with the Board decisions on consultation cycles. (SM/05/429, 12/22/05)
Staff reports and related documents pertaining to Fund surveillance under Article IV over the (i) common monetary and exchange rate policies of ECCU, and (ii) the policies of each individual Fund member that forms part of ECCU, shall be communicated to the East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) at the same time the relevant staff report is made available to the Executive Board, provided, however, that a staff report or related document concerning the policies of an individual Fund member will only be shared with ECCB with that member’s consent.2
Decision No. 13655-(06/1),
January 6, 2006,
as amended by Decision No. 14060-(08/15),
February 12, 2008
Modalities for Surveillance over West African Economic and Monetary Union Policies in Context of Article IV Consultations with Member Countries
Staff will hold annual discussions with the regional institutions responsible for common policies in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). These discussions will be held separately from the discussions with individual WAEMU members.
There will be an annual staff report and Board discussion of the common policies of WAEMU. Both staff’s discussions with WAEMU institutions and the Board discussion of the annual staff report will be considered an integral part of the Article IV consultation with each member of WAEMU.
In addition to common policies in WAEMU that are relevant for surveillance, including monetary and exchange rate policies, the annual staff report will cover from a regional perspective other economic policies relevant for Fund surveillance for which responsibility remains at the national level. There will be a summing up of the conclusion of the Board’s annual discussion on WAEMU’s common policies. It will be incorporated by reference into the summings-up for the Article IV consultations with individual WAEMU members that take place before the next annual Board discussion of WAEMU’s common policies.1 The Board discussions for the Article IV consultations with individual WAEMU members will be clustered, to the extent possible, around the Board discussion on the common policies of WAEMU.
If considered necessary by the Managing Director, staff will hold a second round of discussions during the year with regional institutions and report to the Board informally on these discussions to provide adequate context for bilateral consultations with the individual WAEMU members that do not coincide broadly with the annual Board discussion on the WAEMU’s policies.
The frequency of Article IV consultations with individual WAEMU members shall be determined in accordance with the Board decisions on consultation cycles. (SM/05/429, 12/22/05)
Staff reports and related documents pertaining to Fund surveillance under Article IV over the (i) common monetary and exchange rate policies of WAEMU, and (ii) the policies of each individual Fund member that forms part of WAEMU, shall be communicated to the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) at the same time the relevant staff report is made available to the Executive Board, provided, however, that a staff report or related document concerning the policies of an individual Fund member will only be shared with BCEAO with that member’s consent.1
Decision No. 13656-(06/1),
January 6, 2006,
as amended by Decision No. 14061-(08/15),
February 12, 2008
The Role of the Fund in Governance Issues—Guidance Note EBS/97/125, July 2, 1997
1. Reflecting the increased significance that member countries attach to the promotion of good governance, on January 15, 1997, the Executive Board held a preliminary discussion on the role of the Fund in governance issues, followed by a discussion on May 14, 1997 on guidance to the staff.1 The discussions revealed a strong consensus among Directors on the importance of good governance for economic efficiency and growth.2 It was observed that the Fund’s role in these issues had been evolving pragmatically as more was learned about the contribution that greater attention to governance issues could make to macroeconomic stability and sustainable growth in member countries. Directors were strongly supportive of the role the Fund has been playing in this area in recent years through its policy advice and technical assistance.
2. The Fund contributes to promoting good governance in member countries through different channels. First, in its policy advice, the Fund has assisted its member countries in creating systems that limit the scope for ad hoc decision making, for rent seeking, and for undesirable preferential treatment of individuals or organizations. To this end, the Fund has encouraged, inter alia, liberalization of the exchange, trade, and price systems, and the elimination of direct credit allocation. Second, Fund technical assistance has helped member countries in enhancing their capacity to design and implement economic policies, in building effective policy-making institutions, and in improving public sector accountability. Third, the Fund has promoted transparency in financial transactions in the government budget, central bank, and the public sector more generally, and has provided assistance to improve accounting, auditing, and statistical systems in all these ways, the Fund has helped countries to improve governance, to limit the opportunity for corruption and to increase the likelihood of exposing instances of poor governance, in addition, the Fund has addressed specific issues of poor governance, including corruption,3 when they have been judged to have a significant macroeconomic impact.
3. Building on the Fund’s past experience in dealing with governance issues and taking into account the two Board discussions, the following guidelines seek to provide greater attention to Fund involvement in governance issues, in particular through:
• a more comprehensive treatment in the context of both Article IV consultations and Fund-supported programs of those governance issues that are within the Fund’s mandate and expertise;
• a more proactive approach in advocating policies and the development of institutions and administrative systems that aim to eliminate the opportunity for rent seeking, corruption, and fraudulent activity;
• an evenhanded treatment of governance issues in all member countries; and
• enhanced collaboration with other multilateral institutions, in particular the World Bank, to make better use of complementary areas of expertise.
II. Guidance for Fund Involvement
Responsibility for good governance
4. The responsibility for governance issues lies first and foremost with the national authorities. The staff should, wherever possible, build on the national authorities’ own willingness and commitment to address governance issues, recognizing that staff involvement is more likely to be successful when it strengthens the hands of those in the government seeking to improve governance. However, there may be instances in which the authorities are not actively addressing governance issues of relevance to the Fund. In such circumstances, the staff should raise their specific concerns in this regard with the authorities and point out the economic consequences of not addressing these issues.
Aspects of governance of relevance to the Fund
5. Many governance issues are integral to the Fund’s normal activities. The Fund is primarily concerned with macroeconomic stability, external viability, and orderly economic growth in member countries. Therefore, the Fund’s involvement in governance should be limited to economic aspects of governance. The contribution that the Fund can make to good governance (including the avoidance of corrupt practices) through its policy advice and, where relevant, technical assistance, arises principally in two spheres:
• improving the management of public resources through reforms covering public sector institutions (e.g., the treasury, central bank, public enterprises, civil service, and the official statistics function), including administrative procedures (e.g., expenditure control, budget management, and revenue collection);
• supporting the development and maintenance of a transparent and stable economic and regulatory environment conducive to efficient private sector activities (e.g., price systems, exchange and trade regimes, banking systems and their related regulations).
6. Within these areas of concentration, the Fund should focus its policy advice and technical assistance on areas of the Fund’s traditional purview and expertise. Thus, the Fund should be concerned with issues such as institutional reforms of the treasury, budget preparation and approval procedures, tax administration, accounting, and audit mechanisms, central bank operations, and the official statistics function. Similarly, reforms of market mechanisms would focus primarily on the exchange, trade, and price systems, and aspects of the financial system. In the regulatory and legal areas, Fund advice would focus on taxation, banking sector laws and regulations, and the establishment of free and fair market entry (e.g., tax codes and commercial and central bank laws). In other areas, however, where the Fund does not have a comparative advantage (e.g., public enterprise reform, civil service reform, property rights, contract enforcement, and procurement practices), the Fund would continue to rely on the expertise of other institutions, especially the World Bank. But, consistent with past practice, policies and reforms in these areas could, as appropriate, be part of the Fund staff’s policy discussions and conditionality for the Fund’s financial support where those measures were necessary for the achievement of program objectives.
7. Although it is difficult to separate economic aspects of governance from political aspects, confining the Fund’s involvement in governance issues to the areas outlined above should help establish the boundaries of this involvement. In addition, general principles that are more broadly applicable to the Fund’s activities should also guide the Fund’s involvement in governance issues. Specifically, the Fund’s judgments should not be influenced by the nature of a political regime of a country, nor should it interfere in domestic or foreign politics of any member. The Fund should not act on behalf of a member country in influencing another country’s political orientation or behavior. Nevertheless, the Fund needs to take a view on whether the member is able to formulate and implement appropriate policies. This is especially clear in the case of countries implementing economic programs supported by the Fund from the guidelines on conditionality that call on Fund management to judge that “the program is consistent with the Fund’s provisions and policies and that it will be carried out.”1 As such, it is legitimate for management to seek information about the political situation in member countries as an essential element in judging the prospects for policy implementation.
The criteria for Fund involvement
8. The Fund’s mandate and resources do not allow the institution to adopt the role of an investigative agency or guardian of financial integrity in member countries, and there is no intention to move in this direction. The staff should, however, address governance issues, including instances of corruption, on the basis of economic considerations within its mandate.
9. In considering whether Fund involvement in a governance issue is appropriate, the staff should be guided by an assessment of whether poor governance would have significant current or potential impact on macroeconomic performance in the short and medium term, and on the ability of the government to credibly pursue policies aimed at external viability and sustainable growth. The staff could draw upon comparisons with broadly agreed best international practices of economic management to assess the need for reforms.
10. As regards possible individual instances of corruption, Fund staff should continue raising these with the authorities in cases where there is a reason to believe they could have significant macroeconomic implications, even if these effects are not precisely measurable. Such implications could arise either because the amounts involved are potentially large, or because the corruption may be symptomatic of a wider governance problem that would require changes in the policy or regulatory framework to correct. Instances could include, for example, the diversion of public funds through misappropriation, tax (including customs) fraud with the connivance of public officials, the misuse of official foreign exchange reserves, or abuse of powers by bank supervisors that could entail substantial future costs for the budget and public financial institutions. Corrupt practices could also occur in other government activities, including the regulation of private sector activities that do not have a direct impact on the budget or public finances, such as ad hoc decisions made in relation to the regulation of foreign direct investment. Such practices would be counter to the Fund’s general policy advice aimed at providing a level playing field to foster private sector activity.
11. Instances of corruption that do not meet the threshold of having significant macroeconomic implications are best addressed through the Fund’s efforts to promote transparency and remove unnecessary regulations and opportunities for rent seeking—consistent with the broad principles that apply to other issues of economic governance. Staff recommendations could include improvements in government management processes and systems that would have the beneficial side effect of preventing a recurrence of corrupt practices, or advice to the authorities to seek the assistance of competent institutions for advice in these areas.
The modalities of Fund involvement in governance issues
12. Governance issues are relevant to all member countries although the problems differ depending on the economic systems, institutions, and the economic situation. The mode of Fund involvement will have implications for the manner in which governance concerns are addressed by staff in different member countries. Nonetheless, whatever the mode of involvement, the Fund’s main contribution to improving governance in all countries—both countries receiving financial support from the Fund and other countries—will continue to be through support for policy reforms that remove opportunities for rent-seeking activities and through sustained efforts to help strengthen institutions and the administration capacity in member countries.
Article IV consultation discussions
13. In Article IV consultation discussions, the staff should be alert to the potential benefits of reforms that can contribute to the promotion of good governance (e.g., reduced scope for generalized rent seeking, enhanced transparency in decision making and budgetary processes, reductions in tax exemptions and subsidies, improved accounting and control systems, improvements in statistical dissemination practices, improvements in the composition of public expenditure, and accelerated civil service reform). The potential risks that poor governance could adversely affect private market confidence and, in turn reduce private capital inflows and investment—even in countries enjoying relatively strong growth and private capital inflows—should also be brought to the attention of the authorities. Fund policy advice should also make use of the broad experience of countries with different economic systems and institutional practices and be based on the broadly agreed best international practices of economic management, and on the principles of transparency, simplicity, accountability, and fairness. In the case of international transactions that involve corruption, the staff should pay equal attention to both sides of corrupt transactions and recommend that such practices be stopped if they have the potential to significantly distort economic outcomes (e.g., the tax deductibility of bribes in member countries or certain operations of official agencies). Where poor governance with a significant economic impact is evident and brought to the staff’s attention in its surveillance activities, the staff should discuss the issue with the authorities.
Use of Fund resources
14. While the policy advice indicated above in relation to Article IV consultations is also relevant in the case of Fund-supported programs, the need to safeguard the Fund’s resources must also be taken into account.
15. The use of conditionality related to governance issues emanates from the Fund’s concern with macroeconomic policy design and implementation as the main means to safeguard the use of Fund resources. Thus, conditionality, in the form of prior actions, performance criteria, benchmarks, and conditions for completion of a review, should be attached to policy measures including those relating to economic aspects of governance that are required to meet the objectives of the program. This would include policy measures which may have important implications for improving governance, but are covered by the Fund’s conditionality primarily because of their direct macroeconomic impact (e.g., the elimination of tax exemptions or recovery of nonperforming loans). While the Fund staff should rely on other institutions’ expertise in areas of their purview (e.g., public enterprise reform by the World Bank), it could nevertheless recommend conditionality in these areas if it considers that measures are critical to the successful implementation of the program.
16. Weak governance should be addressed early in the reform effort. Financial assistance from the Fund in the context of completion of a review under a program or approval of a new Fund arrangement could be suspended or delayed on account of poor governance, if there is reason to believe it could have significant macroeconomic implications that threaten the successful implementation of the program, or if it puts in doubt the purpose of the use of Fund resources. Corrective measures that at least begin to address the governance issue should be prior actions for resumption of Fund support and, if necessary, certain key measures could be structural benchmarks or performance criteria. Examples of such measures include recuperation of foregone revenue and changes in tax or customs administration. The staff would need to exercise judgment in assessing whether the actions adopted by the authorities were adequate to address the governance concerns; as in the case of other policies in which the track record is weak and the commitment of the authorities is in doubt, it may be appropriate in some circumstances to call for a period of monitoring prior to a resumption of financial support. The authorities’ policy response could also entail changes in management in public institutions and, as appropriate, the removal of individuals from involvement in particular operations where corruption had occurred, and efforts to recover government funds that have been misappropriated. The staff must, of course, be mindful of the need to avoid action prejudicial to any related domestic legal processes in a particular case.
17. The Fund’s technical assistance programs should continue to contribute to improving economic aspects of governance. This would apply to areas of Fund expertise, including budget management and control, tax and customs administration, central bank laws and organization, foreign exchange laws and regulations, and macroeconomic statistical systems and dissemination practices. In these areas, technical assistance missions should bring to the attention of the authorities areas in which procedures and practices fall short of best international practices.
Identification of governance problems
18. In the context of Article IV consultations, program negotiations, and technical assistance missions, the staff should be alert to aspects of poor governance that would influence the implementation and effectiveness of economic policies and private sector activities. For example, this could be related to a weak and poorly remunerated civil service, which could be addressed through civil service reforms encompassing a restructuring or selective increase in pay scales or the process and transparency of the privatization process. The staff should also pay attention to inconsistencies or improbabilities in the various data and accounts in member countries. For instance, tax collection might fall short of the expected potential yields as a result of weak administration of tax laws, procedural complexities or the widespread abuse of exemptions. The staff should bring data inconsistencies that are not judged to be the result of problems in statistical collection and compilation to the attention of the authorities. The staff should also advise that greater transparency in macroeconomic policy implementation could help build private sector confidence in government policies, for example, the consolidation of all extra budgetary accounts within the budget, the early publication of the budget, and early reporting on the outcome at the end of the fiscal year.
19. It is recognized that there are clear practical limitations to the ability of the staff to identify deficiencies in governance. The availability, quality, and reliability of information are likely to be important factors affecting Fund involvement in corruption cases. The staff should continue to rely on information provided by the authorities. If inconsistencies in public accounts and reports suggest that a problem exists, the staff should, in the first instance, raise the issue with the authorities. In its endeavor to seek information, the staff may need to be prepared to face some tension in the working relationship with country authorities in specific cases potentially involving corrupt practices. The staff may also point out that, in an atmosphere of widespread rumors of corrupt practices, and where the rumors have some genuine credence, an independent audit may be desirable to address such concerns. If the staff considers that further information is required to resolve an issue that has a significant macroeconomic impact, it may be appropriate to make use of information from third parties, including other international organizations and donors. In view of the confidential nature of the information obtained by the staff from member countries, staff enquiries will need to be handled with due discretion and regard for the sensitive nature of the issue.
Coordination with bilateral donors and other multilateral institutions
20. The Fund should collaborate with other multilateral institutions and donors in addressing economic governance issues. Recognizing that the interests of these bodies are more diverse than the Fund’s—ranging from political aspects of governance to specific project-related issues—the Fund staff should exercise independent judgment in formulating policy advice. In addition, the staff should focus its analysis and technical assistance only on those issues that are within its expertise. However, as noted in paragraph 6, conditionality may apply to measures to address governance concerns in areas outside the Fund staff’s expertise. Fund staff should also keep abreast of changes in the policies of partner organizations and specific efforts in member countries on governance issues. This should include the activities of partner organizations, particularly the World Bank, in addressing governance issues in areas which are outside Fund staff’s competence but nonetheless important for the achievement of the economic policies advocated by the Fund (e.g., the reliable enforcement of contracts).
21. Given the commonality of interest with other multilateral institutions, the Fund should seek to strengthen its collaboration on issues of governance with them, and in particular with the World Bank. This should include, especially when requested by the authorities concerned, coordination of action to improve governance.
22. As regards bilateral donors, it is useful to distinguish two different cases in which donor responses to economic and noneconomic governance issues affect the Fund’s relations with its members, although in practice there is seldom a clear separation between such economic and noneconomic aspects:
• In cases where bilateral donors or creditors withhold or interrupt external support because of concern over political and/or economic aspects of governance, the Fund should have an independent view on the economic implications. The Fund staff should examine whether these issues have a direct and significant impact on macroeconomic developments in the short or medium term. If this is the case, the staff should seek to assist the member country concerned through policy advice and technical assistance in areas of its expertise and coordinate as appropriate with donors with a view to helping to address the governance issues before recommending provision of Fund financial support. If this is not the case, but donors continue to withhold support, the staff should seek to assist the authorities in reformulating a program with greater internal adjustment to compensate for reduced external financing, paying due regard to the medium-term sustainability in the absence of a resumption of external assistance. If this were not feasible because of a lack of financing assurances, i.e., adequate external financing for the reformulated program is not in place, as a last resort, the staff should recommend that the Fund withhold its own financial support but continue to provide technical assistance support.
• In cases where governance issues significantly affect short- or medium-term economic developments but donors and creditors continue their financial assistance to the country concerned and do not assist the government in improving governance, Fund staff nevertheless has an independent responsibility for raising the governance issue with the authorities and for reporting to the Board on this issue. There may be occasions when the Fund staff may raise its concerns with donors and creditors, including at consultative group meetings and in round tables. But these instances would need to be addressed with care with the guidance of the Board and due regard to the confidential nature of such information. There are clear limitations to what the Fund’s contribution to improvements in governance in member countries can achieve without the active support from the rest of the international community.
Reporting to the Executive Board
23. The Executive Board will be kept informed about developments in significant cases involving governance issues and will have the opportunity to comment on the operation of these guidelines as country cases are brought forward. In addition, there will be a periodic review by the Executive Board of the Fund’s experience in governance issues.
Concluding Remarks by the Acting Chairman—Military Expenditure and the Role of the Fund Executive Board Meeting 91/138, October 2, 1991
During the discussions on the World Economic Outlook, Directors touched on the issue of military spending in the context of the need to raise global savings and to help meet new investment demands. The scale of global resources devoted to military spending—estimated at nearly 5 percent of world GDP—underscores its importance. In the more recent discussion on Military Expenditure and the Role of the Fund, most Directors indicated that as military expenditures can have an important bearing on a member’s fiscal policy and external position, information about such expenditures may be necessary to permit a full and internally consistent assessment of the member’s economic position and policies. At the same time, Directors emphasized that national security, and judgments regarding the appropriate level of military expenditures required to assure that security, were a sovereign prerogative of national governments and were not in the domain of the work of the Fund.
While many Directors saw a limited, albeit important, role for the Fund in the collection and analysis of data on military spending, a number questioned the role of the Fund in this area. Since the collection of data from all members in the context of Article IV consultations requires the cooperation of members, Directors felt it important, in light of the diverse views expressed during this meeting, to find a common ground that commands a wide degree of support. This common ground should be based on the Fund’s mandate in the Articles.
In the context of the Fund’s surveillance responsibilities, the staff needs to request of members certain data to provide the analytic basis for an effective assessment of members’ macroeconomic policies. At a minimum and for all members, aggregate data which include fiscal expenditures (including off-budget accounts), international trade, and external assets and liabilities, must be reported fully to the Fund. These data should therefore encompass military transactions, even if not separately identified. It has been the policy and practice of the Fund staff to seek comprehensive macroeconomic data for this purpose. In those instances when inconsistencies in data suggested significant reporting gaps, Fund staff has informed the Board and supplemented data from the authorities to the extent possible with data from other sources. Most Directors agreed that the Fund staff should enhance its work to improve the comprehensiveness, comparability, and timeliness of such data reported by authorities.
As military spending is a highly sensitive area, however, several Directors expressed concern about the degree of data disaggregation that might be requested by the staff. In the past, the staff has generally requested, or been offered by authorities of members countries, more detailed information on the breakdown of government expenditures, either on a national or fiscal accounts basis, which have been part of the documentation in staff reports. Such disaggregation, say, as between consumption and capital items, may be necessary in order fully to assess growth prospects and external viability. The staff will continue to request a breakdown of government expenditures, but still at a highly aggregated level, in the context of the Article IV consultation process in order to assess the consistency and sustainability of a member’s policies. The staff will continue to rely on the voluntary cooperation of the authorities in the submission of data. Data deficiencies, which were thought to impair the ability to assess a member’s economic position and prospects and to conduct meaningful policy discussions, would be brought to the attention of the Board in the manner in which such data deficiencies are normally so reported. Directors agreed that data on military expenditures should not serve as a basis for establishing performance criteria or similar conditions associated with Fund-supported programs.
Countries, when contemplating downsizing their military establishments, may wish to be assisted by the staff in assessing the possible effects of such downsizing on macroeconomic performance. In such cases, the authorities may wish to provide such data as would permit more detailed economic analysis and facilitate economic policy discussions. The Fund staff would work closely with Bank staff in these cases on the structural issues associated with shifting domestic resources to other uses.
The macroeconomic effects of military spending could also be analyzed from a regional and global perspective in the WEO.