Time for Caribbean technocrats to occupy top posts in IFIs

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Print this page Email A Friend!

CARIBBEAN technocrats, including Jamaicans, are as good as those of any other country, but there are no Caribbean persons in very senior positions in the top international financial institutions (IFIs), namely the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

An examination of these twin institutions reveals that Caribbean technocrats have never held the post of vice-president. The reason is that top posts in these institutions are not awarded or selected on merit, but by political decisions; and these decisions reflect the existing power structure in the global economy.

By arrangement, the post of managing director of the IMF is reserved for a European (the French have had it for most of the last 30 years) and the president of the World Bank has been the exclusive privilege of the United States since the establishment of these IFIs in 1944.

For nearly 60 years this has been the system, despite the US and EU being ardent advocates of democracy and transparency -- an obvious example of 'do as I say but not as I do'.

This situation begs the question: why does the rest of the world go along with this patently unfair system. There are three reasons.

First, the voting rights in the IMF and World Bank are allocated in a way that ensures that the US and EU hold the controlling votes. The US is the World Bank's largest single shareholder and therefore can block any other candidate. Since this is the case, it is not worth a fight with the superpower when it is not possible to win.

The combined votes of the Caricom/Caribbean countries is so small in the IMF and World Bank that the countries of the region are allocated to nations that have seats on the boards of the IFIs. Canada represents Jamaica on the boards of the IMF and World Bank.

Fortunately, they have always been empathetic and effective representatives for us.

Second, it would require the total unity of all the other countries to change the system. This will not happen because the next biggest block of shares belongs to the EU, which supports the US in the World Bank, so they can hold onto the IMF. The developing countries cannot agree among themselves. For example, there is a Latin American and an African candidate for president of the World Bank. This is certain to divide the developing country vote.

Third, the vice-president positions are shared with the secondary powers; so there is no incentive to rock the boat or support the candidacy of a person from a developing country, no matter how well qualified. By agreement Asia, Africa and Europe each get to select one of the vice presidents. In the same manner, the head of the International Financial Corporation is always European and the head of the Multilateral Insurance Guarantee Agency is always Japanese. The vice-president slots are also politically allocated to the exclusion of candidates from the vast majority of developing countries.

The Caribbean (Caricom, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Central America) must craft and mount a joint diplomatic offensive to have a very senior post in the IMF and World Bank reserved for a person from the region.




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon