At his first Washington press conference since taking office as IMF Managing Director, Horst Köhler said on May 25 that the IMF’s work program in the coming weeks would be organized in “a double-track process.” The first track would be that the Executive Board would continue to work on the agenda set by the International Monetary and Financial Committee at its April meeting (IMF Survey, April 24, page 119), specifically a review of IMF facilities, standards and codes, transparency, and the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. The second track, he said, would seek to place these initiatives in a broader picture, which he called “a vision about the future” of the IMF. A special working group has been organized to concentrate on this, he disclosed. (For an edited transcript of Köhler’s press conference, see page 178.)
Köhler further elaborated this vision in an address to the International Monetary Conference in Paris on May 30. He raised the issue of where globalization is heading, the initiatives that are being undertaken by the international community, and the desirability for the IMF “to pay the utmost attention to crisis prevention, especially through sound macroeconomic policy, the promotion of transparency, and the implementation of practical standards and codes.” He called for a “well-informed and wide-ranging” dialogue between the IMF and the private sector that would become “a permanent feature of the IMF’s work.” (For an edited text of Köhler’s speech, please see page 180.) At his press conference, Köhler also reported on his visit to Latin America. He said that he had been impressed by the dedication of the political leaders, other senior officials, and businesspeople he met to continuing the democratic process and to organizing their economies on a market-oriented basis, as well as by their readiness to continue with the reform agenda. He had made it clear to them, he said, that the market economy needs to be based on society’s consent about the social dimension of development. Also important, he said, was that these countries did not ask for particular favors from the IMF. They agreed that to make growth stronger and steadier, there would have to be a strong reform process and structural change, not only in developing countries but also in industrial countries.
Köhler announced that, beginning May 31, he would visit Asia for meetings with leaders and financial sector representatives from Thailand, China, Korea, Indonesia, and India, to be followed by meetings with representatives of private capital markets in New York. He also said that, beginning July 10, he would visit Africa for discussions with the leaders of several countries, probably including South Africa and Nigeria. Before the September Annual Meetings in Prague, he planned to have a dialogue with civil society and nongovernmental organizations as part of the IMF’s ongoing discussions with these groups.