Protests, IMF Says Wage Cuts Were Romania's Choice, IMF for Vulnerable
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 20 -- With Romania wracked by the most serious protests
since its 1989 revolution, Inner City Press on May 20 asked
International Monetary Fund spokesperson Caroline Atkinson if the IMF
would consider re-negotiating the 25% pay cut to public sector
employees portrayed by the government as a condition for receiving a
May 6 when Inner City Press asked
about Romania, Ms. Atkinson said there were negotiations going on.
On May 20, Ms. Atkinson's
lengthy answer denied IMF responsibility for the cuts, saying they
were choices of the government.
Protest in Romania, IMF says it's not to blame
Ms. Atkinson of the IMF said:
gives me an opportunity to clarify that the IMF did not specify or
insist on any wage cuts with Romania... we did agree with the
Romanian government that some further fiscal tightening would be
needed in order to put their program back on track .. the goal is to
have sustainable public finances that will allow for a recovery and
there are of course different combinations of expenditure cuts and
government chose to focus on the expenditure side in particular on
wage cuts. That was the government's decision. Of course there are no
easy options when there are budget cuts. We have been clear that we
want to protect the most vulnerable and to have measures that limit
the impact on society and can get the most ownership within society."
the tens of thousands protesting in Romania's streets. Watch this
* * *
Consumed in Greek Fire, Dodges on Romania, Pakistan, Sri
Lanka and Rwanda
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 6 -- With the International Monetary Fund's deal with
the Greek government being followed, so far, by five deaths in
protests, the IMF's fortnightly press briefing on Thursday not
surprisingly focused on Greece. IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson
emphasized that the austerity moves were the decision of the
government, not the IMF. She promised a press availability by
Dominique Strauss-Kahn after the IMF board's meeting on Sunday, on
which phasing of the Fund's second largest program ever will be
decided and announced.
questions were asked was met with surprise, and Ms. Atkinson answered
few of them. Inner City Press submitted four questions, only two of
which were allowed. Neither question was answered.
Pakistan, was Greece related in that experts have predicted violent
reactions. Inner City Press submitted this question:
tie-in: In Pakistan, experts say that the govt has not prepared the
public for the value added tax, that "the taxpayers... could
resort to agitation and may even close down markets." What does
the IMF say about VAT, the government's preparing of the people for
it, and possibility of more IMF related violence?"
with an added
Greek tie-in, to try to get an answer, Inner City Press submitted
this, which was read out:
to Greece if you are requiring that: in Romania, is IMF prepared to
lift the country's budget deficit cap? How is the IMF's approach to
Romania impacted by events in Greece?"
Atkinson said that since there are negotiations -- in fact, the IMF
mission is staying two extra days -- she would not comment. Then,
generically, she said that IMF decisions are always impacted by other
events, as well as being country specific. But of course!
Sri Lanka, Inner
City Press asked "is the IMF waiting for the so called mini
budget for the rest of 2010 before considering the next tranche, and
what does the IMF res rep [Koshy Mathai] mean by 'cutting inefficient
important for the IMF to spell out or define this last, but Ms.
Atkinson did not. Perhaps some later written response will arrive.
One was promised to the last of the questions which Inner City Press
submitted, which for some reason was mediated or edited by IMF staff.
Greece on fire, IMF not shown
there is another question coming through, although I will have to
answer it afterwards. Without attribution, she read out "On
Rwanda, what is the status of the IMF's consideration of a Policy
Support Instrument?" She then said that she did not know.
Kigali, IMF resident representative Dmitry Gershenson was quoted two
days ago as having agreed to the PSI. And in Sri Lanka, res rep Koshi
Mathai's statements remain unexplained.
come back to
Romania, the question Ms. Aktinson read out but would not answer,
Reuters has already quoted sources that the deficit budget cap will
be lifted. While the details may have to be worked out, wouldn't it
seem important, including to "support, or I mean fight,
contagion," to make clear that the IMF is at least temporarily
showing flexibility to Greece's neighbors? Watch this site.