Blocked by IMF from Debt Relief, EU Stalls GPS+, Ripert
September 19 -- As at the UN countries jostled to give
speeches about past contributions to Pakistan, Inner City Press asked
UK International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell about the IMF's
requirement that Pakistan not seek any relief of its $500 million a
year in debt payments in exchange for a $450 million loan.
that Pakistan's debt service is “only 3% of its gross national
income.” He said he was sure negotiations would continue on the
a letter submitted to the IMF on September 10 by State Bank
Governor Shahid Hafiz Kardar and Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez
Shaikh committed, at the IMF's demand
make sure Pakistan’s international trade and financial relations
continue to function normally, we will not impose any restrictions on
payments and transfers for current international transactions nor
introduce any trade restrictions or enter into any bilateral payment
agreements that are inconsistent with Article VIII of the Fund’s
Articles of Agreement.”
asked Pakistan's foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi about
this, and he replied that his country's finance minister is speaking
with the World Bank, the IMF and Asia Development Bank and he is
“sure he will take it [debt relief] up with them at the appropriate
he and the
country appear precluded from taking it up, by the IMF's own demands.
also asked Mitchell about whether the EU will grant Pakistan GSP Plus
trade benefits. Mitchell made much of his Prime Minister Cameron
pushing for this, but the EU has yet to move on it, reportedly due to
protectionist opposition by France, Italy, Poland and Portugal (which
is seeking a UN Security Council seat). It was impossible to ask the
EU, as Catherine Ashton unceremoniously canceled her scheduled
the side of
Minister Lectureship’s stakeout, against his will, stood UN envoy
Jean-Maurice Ripert. He had refused to speak to the Press outside the
General Assembly's pledging session on Pakistan, and this time had to
be summoned after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon left without taking
questions, due to the need to swear in Michelle Bachelet at the head
of UN Women.
asked Ripert, by name, to explain his and the UN's failure to push
for humanitarian access to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas
including Waziristan. Ripert tried to get OCHA's Valerie Amos to
answer in his stead, but Inner City Press said Ms. Amos had already
taken the question last week. (Ms. Amos later on Monday introduced
and praised her previous UK colleague Andrew Mitchell in a way some
correspondents found noteworthy, “like Le Roy and the French,”
came to the
microphone and offered nothing but praise for the government, then
referred to “security issues,” saying it is “quite normal that
the UN has to discuss with the government” issues of access.
Qureshi with Ripert in a previously life, IMF and
Ripert's dodges not shown
has not had access in Darfur to parts of Jebel Marra since February,
the UN and NGOs have been denied access to Wazirstan. And what has
the UN and Ripert done?
has been avoiding the Press for days. On September 17, greeted
by Inner City Press, he scowled and walked away, smoking a long white
cigarette. Later he was seen chatting euphorically on his cell phone
in the UN's Vienna Cafe. On Sunday evening he was on CNN
International saying that the floods have impacted an area “as
large as Italy.” Some in the Pakistani press corps have stories of
Ripert in the Alps -- others say Geneva -- but everywhere but
Pakistan. Watch this site.
* * *
IMF Won't Explain Lack of Debt Relief, Why & When
Loans, MDG Games
9 -- Despite the flooding
crisis in Pakistan, the International
Fund is offering loans, which barely make up
for the debt payments Pakistan is making. Inner City Press on
September 9 asked IMF Spokesperson Caroline Atkinson the following
Pakistan, given the scope of the flooding and that 60% of the
population lives in poverty, why is the IMF not considering debt
forgiveness, and grants instead of loans? Does IMF dispute that
Pakistan's debt payments ($500 million) are larger than the $450
paraphrased the first part of the question, and declined to read out
the second part. She said there was a question from this reporter,
that “talks about the scope of the flooding, which is indeed
terrible... We are assessing, there is a damage assessment by the
World Bank and ADB [Asia Development Bank], results in late October.”
there is no
dispute that Pakistan is deeply damaged. Why use the damage
assessment as an excuse? Ms. Atkinson went on to say that Pakistan's
financial minister was at the IMF last week, discussing an ENDA
(emergency) loan that she said will be approved by the board on a
date not even set yet.
she did not
read out, or answer, this: “Does IMF dispute that Pakistan's debt
payments ($500 million) are larger than the $450 million loan?”
Atkinson acknowledge another question Inner City Press submitted,
after in her introduction she presented the IMF's commitment to what
she called the “Millennium Development Challenge Goals” --
seeming to conflate the MDGs with the U.S. Millennium Challenge.
Pakistan floods, IMF debt relief or explanation not shown
submitted this question, in the same manner as the paraphrased
Pakistan question, that NGOs have
the IMF 'for appearing to retreat to its “traditional position"
and not providing enough flexibility on unwinding deficits without
harming development spending.' Your response?”
this, no answer.
Watch this site.
Ms. Atkinson did read out and provide a response to an
Inner City Press question on Serbia. Given the vote later today in
the UN General Assembly on Serbia's resolution about the
International Court of Justice, the IMF's answer will be reported at
* * *
Funds for Central Africa, Goes on Vacation, Ignores Guinea
Bissau, Ukraine, Hungary and even Haiti Questions
-- The IMF, which positions itself as concerned
about lower income countries and people, cut off funding to the
central bank for six Central African states, and then went on
off was justified, based on corruption. But when
will the problem be solved and the funding be restored?
July 22, Inner
City Press submitted a series of questions to the IMF in connection
with Spokesperson Caroline Atkinson's online briefing, which we can
no longer call fortnightly.
questions, only one was read out
loud, about the Central African bank. The other questions were
neither read nor answered. And there will be no next briefing until
late August, after the IMF Board's vacation under August 20. (In
fairness to the IMF, the World Bank also followed with a cut-off.)
On July 22,
Atkinson read out:
to those of you who participated online. And I’ll get back to any
of you that have further questions that we haven’t been able to
take. Actually, I just see—sorry, there’s another one [from Inner
City Press] that’s flashed up, asking about the status of the
Fund’s review of the Bank of Central African States and 'when will
the suspension and disbursements to countries—well, to the BEAC,
which then on lends to countries be reconsidered?'
just note that we have been closely engaged with the authorities at
the BEAC and with the CEMAC member country authorities to help them
to address the underlying issues that allowed it to take place. And
we hope very much that we can reach satisfactory understandings that
will provide assurance that money disbursed through the BEAC will be
properly safeguarded and that, therefore, we can continue with the
disbursements. And, of course, we’ll let you know when that
happens. Okay, thank you very much.”
also said, “the
Executive Board will be on an informal recess from Monday, August 2,
until Friday, August 20. We will also, by the way, be having our next
press briefing probably late in August.”
what will happen
with BEAC, the central bank for the six states of the Economic
Community of Central African States (CEMAC) -- Gabon, Equatorial
Guinea, Cameroon, Chad, Congo Republic and Central African
Republic? CAR for example is in chaos, with elections supposedly
rebels active in Birao and elsewhere.
Questions in and on Africa, IMF on vacation and not shown
in Cameroon the Finance Ministry was robbed. The Minister of Finance,
Essimi Menye said FCFA 700 million as reported by the media as having
been stolen would have required a pickup vehicle to transport. He
also said such a sum of money was not kept at the Ministry rather at
the Bank of Central African States, BEAC. Hmm...
questions, which the IMF has yet to acknowledge much less
of coup leader to the top Army post have
an impact on IMF re-scheduling consideration of HIPC & MDRI?
is the IMF opposed to Orban's proposed bank tax?
questioned why the IMF's new $60 million is not a
grant but a loan. Can you please explain?
Board on 7/28 be considering both a $3 billion loan
& breaches of information disclosure requirements by Ukraine?
What's the connection between the two?