Arabs must have bigger say at IMF – UAE

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UAE's Minister of State for Finance Obaid Humaid Al Tayer with a French parliamentary delegation. Photo - Albawaba.com

The UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs has said more Arabs are needed to increase the international lender’s credibility.

Obaid Humaid Al Tayer said in a statement issued during the IMF’s spring meeting at the organisation’s headquarters in Washington on behalf of several regional countries that Arabs account for fewer than 3% of employees at the IMF.

“We consider staff diversity as integral to the fund’s credibility with members,” Al Tayer said in a statement posted on the IMF website. “The number of Arab economists at the fund has declined since 2009. Additional recruitment efforts are needed at all economist staff levels.”

The top Emirati official also said that voting power at the IMF needs a complete overhaul. He insisted that the quota system, which determines how many votes each member has on the fund’s executive board, needs to be changed so that all members get an adequate voice and representation.

“The large weight of GDP in it undermines the voice and representation of most developing and emerging economies,” Al Tayer explained. “A small open economy has clearly more at stake in the global financial system than a large economy with few external linkages,” he added.

He said that the UAE’s leadership supported the calls made by Arab countries for additional resources as they were important to address emerging risks to the global economy. “But it was also important that the fund keep sufficient reserves,” he insisted.

“Fund lending is at record levels and loans are highly concentrated,” he said.

Mr Al Tayer’s statement was issued on behalf of the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, the Maldives, Oman, Qatar, Syria and Yemen.

The IMF has come under intense criticism since uprisings erupted in the Arab world in early 2011.

Many observers have blamed the top global financial institution for not focusing enough on indicators of “inclusive growth” in in the past. While rich classes revelled over strong economic growth, working classes across the Middle East region suffered from low wages, hyper inflation and unemployment.

“The IMF has a potentially important role in promoting the adjustment and reform efforts in the region through policy advice, financial support, and adequate and timely technical assistance,” Al Tayer said.

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