Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

Amid Yemen Crackdown, IMF Meets With Central Bank, Denies DSK Nepotism

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 -- The IMF, which called the outlook for Libya's economy “favorable” as recently as February 15 of this year, is still having “technical meetings” with the government of Yemen even as protesters are gunned down, IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson told Inner City Press on Thursday.

Inner City Press submitted two questions to the IMF bi-weekly briefing on March 31, including

On Yemen, please describe IMF's engagement with current gov't after Ghazi Shbeikat's talks earlier this month, and any impact its killing of protesters has had.”

Ms. Atkinson translated this to “I have a question online about Yemen: Please describe the IMF’s engagement with the current government after talks earlier this month and any impact the violence has had.”

The violence -- that is, the killing of protesters -- has been so bad even Yemen's Permanent Representative to the UN Abduallah Alsaidi, former head of the Group of 77 and China, has quit. Here was Ms. Atkinson's (first) answer:

Of course, in Yemen, Syria, and other cases we deplore any violence and we hope for peaceful resolution of political issues–We have a program actually outstanding with Yemen and there have been contacts at a technical level with the central bank monitoring developments. We have had contacts at a technical level with a number of central banks in the region.”

Reporters who cover the IMF but are not present in its briefing room are not allowed follow up questions.

Dominique Straus-Kahn & Ben Ali per FP, clairvoyance not shown

 But in this case, those in the room followed up:

QUESTION: I’d like to follow up on Yemen. Is that program still in place or has it been suspended in any way?

MS. ATKINSON: Well, we do not suspend programs –-

QUESTION: Well, no, sometimes you do when it comes to political issues -– Ukraine, for example.

MS. ATKINSON: Well, perhaps it is just semantics. Our programs remain in place until they expire. Quite often in different occasions countries may not draw under the programs for different reasons including that we may not have reached agreement on economic policies or on policies that we believe will be sufficient to justify the financing. In the case of Yemen the Board approved a three year arrangement last July under the extended credit facility. There has not been any disbursement since then to Yemen.

There are a number of objectives of the program: supporting strong growth; diversifying the revenue base because there is an important need for expenditures especially for the poor and the vulnerable; and reprioritizing the expenditures to support capital investment as well as social spending. We have been in discussions about that for a number of months.

We'll see. Inner City Press had submitted a second question, as it did without any answer from the IMF two weeks ago:

Please state whether Dominique Strauss Kahn has any relatives working in the World Bank or other UN affiliated organizations, and if so why this does not run afoul of anti nepotism rules and principles?”

Two weeks ago, the IMF simply pretended this question had not been submitted. This time, while Ms. Atkinson did not read it out, her deputy William Murray later sent this answer:

Matthew, He has no relatives on the staff of the IMF. Given the premise of your question, let me note that the Bank and UN are wholly separate institutions from the IMF, with no fiscal or managerial connections. At the IMF we certainly have nepotism rules, and they have not been violated in any way.”

While Inner City Press thanked Murray for the answer, follow up questions are predicted. Watch this site.

* * *

IMF Called Libya “Favorable” on Feb 15, Now Claims DSK Clairvoyance

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 3, updated -- With a mixture of twenty twenty hindsight and outright revisionism, the International Monetary Fund on Thursday joined the wider UN in turning their mis-analysis of Libya into a case of “I told you so.”

The UN system, which had Aicha Gadhafi as a Goodwill Ambassador until exposed by the Press last month, has belatedly pointed at some UNDP Human Development Reports, even claiming that these inspired the protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and even Yemen, where UNDP Administrator Helen Clark visited earlier this year and said nothing about democracy.

On Thursday, Inner City Press asked IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson, “On Libya, what does the IMF now say about its praise of the Gadhafi government's policies in early February 2011? Will events make the IMF modify the way it analyzes.”

Ms. Atkinson began, “Of course we always learn from events.” But she went on to claim, “I do feel the changes, what's happening in the Middle East, shows the importance of the issues the Managing Director and staff have talked about for a while, inclusive growth... providing jobs.”

But an IMF publication dated February 15, 2011 stated among other things that “the outlook for Libya’s economy remains favorable.” Really?

  See, "IMF Executive Board Concludes 2010 Article IV Consultation with the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Public Information Notice (PIN) No. 11/23, February 15, 2011."

   Ms. Atkinson also read out Inner City Press' question about Nigeria, where labor groups are urging the government not to give in to what they say is the IMF's advice to devalue the Naira. Ms. Atkinson replied that the IMF is not advocating a particular rate, and said that the IMF's Deputy Director for Africa Mark Plant has been quoted as much. Not in Google News. But we'll keep looking.

Ms. Atkinson ended by saying that Inner City Press has also submitted questions about “Pakistan, Libya, Jamaica, whatever,” adding that the IMF will response bilaterally to these detailed questions. We'll see - question submitted two weeks ago about Ukraine, Cote d'Ivoire and the American GSEs have still not been answered. Watch this site.

Update: long after deadline, an IMF spokesperson provided this response on Jamaica:

Q: In Jamaica, please respond to reports IMF froze earmarked funds for upgrading the corridor from Sangster Int'l airport to Greenwod, St. James? What are the IMF's rules for taking questions?

A: You can attribute this to an IMF spokesperson:

False premise. The government’s agreement with the IMF includes only broad fiscal targets for the central government and the public entities as a whole.

* * *

IMF Postpones Kosovo & Pakistan, Waiting for Stronger Governments, Dodges on Sudan But Answers on Tunisia

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 6, updated -- Questions of Pakistan and Kosovo and the International Monetary Fund's longing for strong governments arose at the IMF's fortnightly media briefing on Thursday. Inner City Press asked, and IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson read out with a cautionary note, the following on Pakistan:

On Pakistan, what is the IMF's thinking after the assassination of Punjab's governor, as the government loses power -- [here Ms Atkinson added, “those are Matthew's words”] -- is it realistic to think the IMF's conditions will be met?”

  In response, she said Pakistan has been given nine additional months. But what will be different then?

  Later in the briefing, Ms. Aktinson read out the rare Balkan question, also from Inner City Press:

On Kosovo, what are the IMF's views on Mr. Thaci's proposal to double public sector salaries, and on the Council of Europe's allegations this once and seeming future PM was involved in organ trafficking?”

  How ever distasteful the organ reference may have been to Ms. Atkinson, she replied that “we have, as Matthew may know, an eighteen month” program with Kosovo, the December consideration of which has been postponed.

  A link between these two may be that while the IMF does impose conditions on its loans, it prefers to say that governments, particularly legislatures, have approved or even chosen between the choices presented by the IMF. This legitimates the IMF, and also may help in collecting the money down the road.

  Kosovo is in political turmoil, and Pakistan no longer even controls large swaths of its territory -- nor, apparently more importantly to the IMF, its political space.

Protest in Tunisia, IMF role & even acknowledgment of question not shown

  Submitted but not acknowledge during the briefing by Ms. Atkinson was this question, about Tunisia:

On Tunisia, given the IMF's role and statements, what can IMF say about the unrest that has followed the death of protester Mohamed Bouazizi and others?”

  We will await the IMF's acknowledgement and answer of this question, and a more detailed response on Sudan and the IMF's role in the debt issues, on which the UN has said “the Bretton Woods institutions are taking the lead.” Watch this site.

Update of 1 pm - Two hours after deadline, the following arrived, with the notation that it should be attributed to an IMF spokesperson:

We deeply regret the recent surge of violence in Tunisia. The IMF remains engaged with the Tunisian authorities and follows the developments closely. Unemployment in Tunisia has declined slightly in the last decade, but remains high, especially among the young. In this context, IMF staff continues to encourage the authorities to pursue structural reforms critical to achieve higher growth, enhance competitiveness and address the problem of persistent high unemployment. Such reforms include measures to increase productivity by improving the business environment, reforming labor market policy, increasing capital investment, and modernizing and strengthening the financial sector.”

We'll have more on this.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -