Philippines with 9,049 votes in the International Montary Fund wants Asian IMF chief

IT’S HIGH TIME that an Asian takes the helm at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Philippine economic managers yesterday said in the wake of Dominique Strauss-Khan’s resignation.

The IMF managing director, in a May 18 letter released yesterday, said he was quitting to concentrate on fighting charges that he had sexually assaulted a hotel maid in New York.

His arrest last Saturday has sparked a debate over who gets to head the Washington-based global lender. The top IMF post is traditionally held by a European in the same way that an American is named president of the World Bank.

"Given the urgent need for stable leadership in the IMF, coupled with the shifting global economic landscape, where in Asia increasingly plays a major role as a growth driver of the global economy, there is no time more fitting than now for an Asian leader to take the helm of such a distinguished organization," Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said in a text message yesterday.

There have been "great shifts" in the balance of economic powers and this should be reflected in the structure and composition of the new IMF leadership, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guiniguindo said in a separate text message.

Messrs. Purisima and Guiniguindo called for a "new brand of leadership" to enhance the IMF’s legitimacy and relevance in a changing world. This could also be the solution for the Fund at a time when it is "in search of new modalities to prevent new crises," Mr. Guiniguindo said.

Central bank Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr., for his part, said he did not expect the global lender’s operations to be disrupted the Strauss-Kahn case.

"The IMF as an institution is bigger than one man, even its managing director. Its institutional framework is sound," he said in a text message.

Still, he said it was time to consider changes to the way its executives are chosen.

"I believe the way forward is to have a broader base for selection, not just in the representation at the executive director level at the IMF Executive Board, but also -- and even more so -- for the [managing director] position itself. Diversity should be made an important consideration," he said.

The Philippines has 9,049 votes in the IMF, equivalent to 0.41% of the total held by the institution’s member countries.



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