Emerging countries must unite on IMF job, says Manmohan Singh

Emerging countries must unite on IMF job, says Manmohan Singh

Addis Ababa: Emerging countries which criticise the European monopoly on the top job at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should take a united stand and be patient, Prime Minister Monmohan Singh said on Wednesday.

He spoke as French finance minister Christine Lagarde said in Paris that she was a candidate to be the next head at the IMF.

The post is vacant because Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned to fight charges of sexual assault.

“The reform of the global institutions, and that includes the Bretton Woods institutions, has been high on the agenda of developping countries for a long time," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a press conference at the close of the India-Africa trade summit here.

He was referring to the IMF and World Bank.

“But we have also to recognise that international relations beyond a point are power relations and that those who wield power do not wish to yield ground very easily," he said.

“So I’m not very well informed on what is going on with regard of the successor to the managing director of the IMF but I do recognise that the struggle for the transformation of global institutions is ... a long process in which all the developing countries will have to stand united".

The world’s largest emerging economies, India among them, on Tuesday slammed Europe’s push to retain the top job at the IMF, calling the continent’s hold on the position “obsolete."

One day after nominations for the job opened, IMF directors from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - the so-called BRICS economies - said that Europe’s longstanding exclusive deal to lead the IMF “undermines the legitimacy of the Fund."

A European has headed the IMF, and a US national the World Bank, under an arranagement since the two organisations were created under the Bretton Woods agreement at the end of World War II.

The BRIC countries strongly objected to the aggressive push by Europeans since last week to have one of their own to replace Strauss-Kahn.

“We are concerned with public statements made recently by high-level European officials to the effect that the position of managing director should continue to be occupied by a European," they said.

Behind their seemingly united front, the five BRICS nations all have different agendas.

European nations hold close to one-third of the IMF’s voting power while the United States has nearly 17%; Asian nations hold around 20% with the rest held by other countries.

Last week, the IMF board pledged “an open, merit-based, and transparent" selection process based on consensus, though it could come to a board vote.