IMF chief calls for 'change' as disputes left unresolved

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The Independent Online

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) insisted he was "not disappointed," but called for change after the meeting in Washington failed to resolve a series of disputes.

After a weekend of talks, finance ministers and central bank governors from 187 nations again failed to reach agreement on disputes about currencies, promoting global growth and reforming the IMF itself.

Its managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, betrayed some annoyance at the lack of action indicated in the official communiqué that closed the IMF meeting. It promised only to "work toward a more balanced pattern of global growth".

Mr Strauss-Kahn said: "The language is ineffective. The language is not going to change things. Policy has to be changed. I'm not disappointed. What we need is real action."

Mr Strauss-Kahn said he was hopeful new quotas – which determine voting rights – could be agreed in the next few weeks, leaving open the possibility of an accord at the Seoul G20 summit in early November.

"A large part of the gap has been bridged, but there is still a long list of questions that the members want to discuss," he said. "I think ... a solution will be provided, I don't know if I should say days or weeks, but let's say a small number of weeks."

Aid agencies reacted angrily to the latest delay on an issue that has been on the agenda for more than a decade. The failure by the international community to offer emerging nations such as India, China and Brazil a greater say in the IMF's affairs, while protecting the rights of the very poorest countries, has been a perennial distraction.

"Europe is denying developing countries their rightful say in how the global economy is run," said Pamela Gomez, an Oxfam spokeswoman. Reflecting concerns that disputes about competitive devaluations – so-called currency wars – were adding a further complication to reform, she added: "The currency war cannot be used to hold IMF reform hostage."