Christine Lagarde and Agustin Carstens have been on a tour of some countries which by the sheer strength of their economies may just be the deal breakers in the search for the next Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.The position was left vacant after the previous holder Dominique Strauss Khan was charged with sexual assault and other charges committed against a hotel maid in an upmarket New York Hotel.
When i hear talk about the IMF all i seem to remember are the Structural Adjustment Programs(SAP’S) they gave as conditions for Aid to the Kenyan government back in the 90’s which went on to cause a lot of grief among Kenyans.Now the tide has changed and Kenya and most other African countries are no longer at the mercy of the IMF.They have a very willing partner in China who lends without too many questions or conditions.
Looking at the wooing that is going on for votes by the two candidate it is a no brainer to conclude that African countries do not carry that much weight in the vote.That is why they do not feature in the itinerary that has been mapped out by the two contestants.The countries that contribute a bulk of the money.This is mainly because funding for the body by member countries is based on quotas that are determined by that countrys’ strength on the world economy.The system used for funding the IMF can be read here.African countries do not have much economic clout on the global stage and that could be the reason that the two candidates have not paid much attention to them.Another factor that could be influencing the choice of countries the two are visiting to pitch their suitabilities for the job are that countries in much of Europe like Greece,Ireland,Portugal are in need of bail out from the IMF.
In voting for the next managing director for the IMF job,a candidate needs to garner votes from the members with the highest percentage of contributions because these are the ones who have the greatest say in decision making.African countries are largely borrowers in these financial arrangement and more often than not have been saddled with loans with so many conditions ,that African countries end up being forever mired in debt for generations to come.
According to an article by rainbow warrior on how voting is done it is literally a matter of how much your influence is worth in gold that will determine who gets the top job.Africa with its meager resources can in noway have a say in who heads the organization,the decision is in the hands of the US and much of the G8 and G20 countries.Africa and the rest of the developing countries who make up the IMF membership can only ever hope to have one of their own heading the financial body if they can garner financial clout that can stand up to the US and Europe and that is going to take years.
Meanwhile as we wait to hear who gets the job though i think it is a no brainer that it will be Lagarde with Carstens as deputy in order to appease the BRICS countries,it is time the next MD changed tact on the way the IMF views Africa.Much of the time it has received a lot of flak from African intellectuals for forcing conditions down the throats of begging countries and imposing plans that have done nothing but harm the recipients of the countries they have been channeled to.This is because some of the money is targeted at projects that hardly ever benefit citizens and the conditions imposed for the loans end up wrecking the lives of the very same people they are meant to help.
Focus by the new head should now be on well thought out and researched policies that can benefit the people in the developing countries while also making sure the funds are used for their intended purposes.With China now joining the list of options available for loans and grants IMF needs to drop the list of conditions it imposes for their loan,what should be focused on is monitoring of these funds to make sure they are being put to their intended purposes.
African countries also need to play a a part in ensuring that they reform their policies to include more transparency in the way they utilize their funds,elect leaders with integrity and knowledge to push their economies to compete in a world where bail outs have become the norm rather than the exception.Countries are facing tougher times on the world economic stage and previously countries we never thought would need bail outs are now in urgent need of financial help,it is now up to African countries which have so many resources are able to manage their resources in such a manner that they reap economic benefits for themselves and their citizens.