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Economy
Sunday, 03-September-2006
Singapore - - Asia's recovery from the 1997 financial crisis carries a message of hope that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) plan to highlight during their annual meetings in Singapore.
While the question of whether a decision to give more voting power to China, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico will be ratified by the IMF board of governors is commanding attention, the institutions regard Asia's rebound as an example to be heeded.
The world's financial elite of bankers, finance ministers and heads of state are among the 16,000 delegates expected at the meetings from September 11-20 amid elaborate security precautions highlighting fears of a terrorist attack or violent protests.
Although the WB asked the Singapore government to allow outdoor protests, the city-state has been adament in confining accredited groups to an area in the lobby of the Suntec convention centre, the venue for the sessions.
Showcasing Asia's ability to emerge from its worst financial crisis will be a key focus, said Peter Stephens, the WB's representative in Singapore.
The crisis which started in Thailand and rapidly spread prompted foreign investors to pull their funds out of the region on concerns over mounting debt in both the public and private sectors, triggering one of the area's worst recessions.
Hardest hit were Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malalysia and South Korea.
'We're seeing Asia integrate much more rapidly than anybody predicted a decade ago,' Stephens said. The changes are 'so profound' that Asia could almost eliminate poverty over the next 25 years.
'If it could happen in Asia, there is no reason why it cannot happen in Africa and Latin America,' he added.
With foreign investors storming back, analyst Terence Tong mentioned how companies beefed up corporate governance and transparency. Many of the countries have accumulated large foreign reserves to prevent a future crisis, making them less dependent on the IMF.
Although the fund's board of governors is expected to ratify the plan agreed upon last week by the IMF directors to give more voting power to developing countries, Managing Director Rodrigo Rato said major emerging countries from the Middle East and Asia opposed it.
Under the plan, China, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico will see immediate increases in their voting rights, better reflecting their economic power, Rato told Asian journalists in a recent Internet linkup from Washington.
There is agreement that a new formula for quotas, the amount of money each of the 184 member countries contributes to the IMF, be based on economic size. Quotas determine a country's voting power and access to financing.
Rato said he believed 'all members recognize that relevant quotas and voting shares do not adequately respond to the reality of the world economy.'
Voting rights have changed slowly since the fund was established in 1945 when they primarily reflected the economic dominance of the United States and Europe.
Several sessions will concentrate on the rise of China and India and the implications for the world, said Yukon Huang, formerly the WB's country director for China who is acting as an advisor on the programme.
'For India, many wonder whether it can move from its strengths in outsourcing and IT (information technology) services and participate more significantly in the regional production networks and whether its governance structures are actually helpful in fostering private initiatives or a deterrent,' he told The Business Times.
'For China, many Asian countries worry about whether it is a threat rather than an opportunity,' he added.
The IMF's reforms include itself. Following the Asian financial crisis, critics warned that the institution was in danger of losing its relevance.
As part of its efforts to enhance surveillance of the global economy, the fund has started multilateral consultations with key economic players.
The fund must adapt to remain 'effective, credible and relevant,' Rato said.
2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur Singapore - Asia's recovery from the 1997 financial crisis carries a message of hope that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) plan to highlight during their annual meetings in Singapore.
While the question of whether a decision to give more voting power to China, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico will be ratified by the IMF board of governors is commanding attention, the institutions regard Asia's rebound as an example to be heeded.
The world's financial elite of bankers, finance ministers and heads of state are among the 16,000 delegates expected at the meetings from September 11-20 amid elaborate security precautions highlighting fears of a terrorist attack or violent protests.
Although the WB asked the Singapore government to allow outdoor protests, the city-state has been adament in confining accredited groups to an area in the lobby of the Suntec convention centre, the venue for the sessions.
Showcasing Asia's ability to emerge from its worst financial crisis will be a key focus, said Peter Stephens, the WB's representative in Singapore.
The crisis which started in Thailand and rapidly spread prompted foreign investors to pull their funds out of the region on concerns over mounting debt in both the public and private sectors, triggering one of the area's worst recessions.
Hardest hit were Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malalysia and South Korea.
'We're seeing Asia integrate much more rapidly than anybody predicted a decade ago,' Stephens said. The changes are 'so profound' that Asia could almost eliminate poverty over the next 25 years.
'If it could happen in Asia, there is no reason why it cannot happen in Africa and Latin America,' he added.
With foreign investors storming back, analyst Terence Tong mentioned how companies beefed up corporate governance and transparency. Many of the countries have accumulated large foreign reserves to prevent a future crisis, making them less dependent on the IMF.
Although the fund's board of governors is expected to ratify the plan agreed upon last week by the IMF directors to give more voting power to developing countries, Managing Director Rodrigo Rato said major emerging countries from the Middle East and Asia opposed it.
Under the plan, China, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico will see immediate increases in their voting rights, better reflecting their economic power, Rato told Asian journalists in a recent Internet linkup from Washington.
There is agreement that a new formula for quotas, the amount of money each of the 184 member countries contributes to the IMF, be based on economic size. Quotas determine a country's voting power and access to financing.
Rato said he believed 'all members recognize that relevant quotas and voting shares do not adequately respond to the reality of the world economy.'
Voting rights have changed slowly since the fund was established in 1945 when they primarily reflected the economic dominance of the United States and Europe.
Several sessions will concentrate on the rise of China and India and the implications for the world, said Yukon Huang, formerly the WB's country director for China who is acting as an advisor on the programme.
'For India, many wonder whether it can move from its strengths in outsourcing and IT (information technology) services and participate more significantly in the regional production networks and whether its governance structures are actually helpful in fostering private initiatives or a deterrent,' he told The Business Times.
'For China, many Asian countries worry about whether it is a threat rather than an opportunity,' he added.
The IMF's reforms include itself. Following the Asian financial crisis, critics warned that the institution was in danger of losing its relevance.
As part of its efforts to enhance surveillance of the global economy, the fund has started multilateral consultations with key economic players.
The fund must adapt to remain 'effective, credible and relevant,' Rato said.
2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
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