Singapore Media Watch

Sunday, September 24, 2006

IMF/WB: Singapore fails to impress - The Asian Banker

Published 20 September 2006 (Excerpts)
By the Asian Banker Editorial Team


After much careful planning and detailed execution, Singapore appears to have fallen short in its desire to impress the estimated 20,000 delegates in the city-state attending the recent annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

At the heart of the matter was the banning of several prominent civic society organisation (CSOs) activists from entering Singapore, although they had been approved by the world organisations to attend.

Also, in the spotlight was the banning of protests by CSOs except in highly restricted areas.The president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, summed up the general sentiment about Singapore at the meetings when he said, “I would argue whether it has to be as authoritarian as it has been and I would certainly argue that at the stage of success they have reached, they would do much better for themselves with a more visionary approach to the process.”

As Singapore does not have a strong CSO culture, his comments were generally ignored in the city-state.But some regulars at the annual meetings thought that the IMF and the World Bank were “disingenuous” in their comments against Singapore.

One regular delegate pointed out that this year, for the first time, CSOs were not permitted to enter the media room to interact with journalists. Restrictions on the activities of the CSOs worked in the global bodies’ favour – decisions that were well within their control to facilitate.

Outside of these concerns, it was business as usual. Mexican finance minister Francisco Gil Diaz, whose country received a slight boost in its quota in the IMF resolution voted this week, refused to join in the cry of other Latin American nations that questioned the quota reform.

But Argentina and Brazil were the most vociferous in their protests, along with Egypt and India, countries whose quotas were not increased, unlike China, South Korea and Turkey, whose quotas were. Several Latin American nations are pressing the IMF to use the purchasing power parity (PPP) method of calculating GDP, which would suggest greater representation for a country like Brazil, but not Mexico.

The transformation of the IMF representation mechanism promised to be a long drawn issue in the future.The World Bank’s attempt at making the fight against corruption as a central theme of the conference backfired when several central banks' governors questioned instead the world body’s own track record in this area.

Many were in praise of Singapore as a country with a similar model that they would like to emulate. Unfortunately, this was not a sentiment shared by most of the other emerging economies that would have liked to have seen a better functioning social infrastructure.

Instead they were greeted by very high security fences and road diversions that some said were excessive and which made it inconvenient to participate in favourite Singaporean pastime of shopping in well air-conditioned malls. Singapore was certainly a victim of its own ambitions to impress.

1 Comments:

  • Chang Jinx was the cause of Mao Tse Tung' downfall.
    Ho Jinx is the cause of Take-sin's
    downfall.

    Moral of the story:
    Don't ever make any deal with any of the 'Jings'.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:52 AM  

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