EU wants G20 to boost IMF funds after Eurogroup move
COPENHAGEN, March 31 — The European Union expects leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies (G20) to agree to contribute more money to the IMF in April after Europe expanded its own bailout capacity, EU officials said today.
The International Monetary Fund is seeking to more than double its war chest by raising US$600 billion (RM1.8 trillion) in new resources to help nations deal with the fallout of the euro zone debt crisis.
But most G20 countries have said that before they inject any new money into the IMF, the euro zone must first put up more of its own money to resolve its sovereign debt crisis.
In response, finance ministers from the 17 countries sharing the euro, called the Eurogroup, on Friday raised the combined lending capacity of their two bailout funds to €700 billion (RM2.8 trillion) from €500 billion.
The increase was a compromise between tempering new demands on euro zone taxpayers and assuring markets that money invested in euro zone debt was safe.
“It is important to ensure that the IMF has enough resources to play its systemic role in the world economy and yesterday’s agreement within the Eurogroup... is very important in this respect,” Danish Economics Minister Margrethe Vestager, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters.
G20 finance ministers and central bank governors will discuss an increase in IMF resources on April 22 in Washington.
“This is the time for increasing IMF resources. It is in the interest of all countries, the focus is very much on Europe, but it is very important to recognise that there are vulnerabilities in other parts of the globe as well,” Vestager said.
“I think and I hope, and that is what we are working for, that we will reach an agreement in April,” she added.
But five large emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) - have said they will only support an increase in IMF resources if they are given more say in the IMF, as envisaged by a 2010 reform.
“The EU is aware of its responsibility in successfully implementing the 2010 IMF quota and governance reforms and is working on implementing it in full,” an EU terms of reference document prepared for EU delegations for the Washington meeting said. “We call on others to do likewise.”
The euro zone has already declared that it would contribute €150 billion to the higher IMF resources. The Czech Republic will contribute €1.5 billion, Denmark €5.3 billion, Poland €6.3 billion and Sweden €6.9 billion euros.
“The EU calls on other G20 countries and financially strong IMF members to contribute to the effort,” the EU document said.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Friday that the stronger euro zone bailout capacity would support the IMF’s efforts to raise more cash.
The European Commission and several other institutions initially pushed for a bigger increase in the euro zone firewall, arguing that the bigger the bailout capacity, the smaller the probability that it would ever have to be used.
But Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Estonia and Slovenia opposed a larger bailout capacity and on Friday the European Central Bank and the European Commission said they were happy with the increase.
“We Europeans can travel to the spring meetings in Washington having done our homework,” ECB executive board member Joerg Asmussen said.
In Washington, the European Union will urge Japan and the United States to cut their budget deficits as promised, the terms of reference document said.
It will also call for structural reform in G20 countries, saying the United States and China had the biggest macroeconomic imbalances.
The United States should increase its domestic savings rate, consolidate public finances and improve financial regulation and supervision, the document said.
It said China must strengthen its welfare policies, reform corporate governance and liberalise financial services as well as allow the exchange rate of its Yuan currency to be set by the market rather than the government. — Reuters