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French finance minister front runner for IMF boss

French finance minister front runner for IMF boss

Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager on Monday offered his support for his French counterpart Christine Lagarde to take over the helm of the International Monetary Fund.

Saturday 28 May 2011, 03:06AM

“It is extremely important for Europe to have a single candidate, and it would be very good if it were Christine Lagarde,” De Jager said on public radio in answer to a question. “She would have my total support.”

The IMF is scrambling to designate a successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn by the end of June.

Mr Strauss-Kahn is currently under close house arrest in the US, accused of several counts of sexual violence against a chamber maid in his hotel. He has resigned.

The EU is expected to announce its candidate at the Group of Eight summit in Deauville, France, later this week.

An EU source said Friday that Lagarde, 55, was “practically a shoo-in” to become Europe’s candidate, although she has been dogged by a French judicial probe into allegations of abuse of power.

Lagarde is widely respected in global financial circles and well-liked by the United States – which controls 16.8 per cent of the voting power on the IMF executive board.

Under a long-standing arrangement between Europe and the United States, a European has always held the top IMF job while an American leads its sister institution, the World Bank.


However, non-European candidates are being put forward, including Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij.

Kevin Rafferty, a former managing editor at the World Bank, wrote an editorial published in the Japan Times and the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong on Saturday, naming Mr Korn as a possible candidate, and citing “his deep understanding of financial markets’’.

The Bangkok Post reported, however, that Mr Korn, though flattered, was committed to helping the Democrat Party win the July 3 general election.

Mr Rafferty argued that a candidate from outside Europe or the US would be preferable and that the world needs an IMF manager who would be open about the realities of the fiscal problems facing the world’s major economies.

Australia’s Treasurer Wayne Swan, agreed. He said the new IMF head should be chosen on merit alone; the habit of selecting Europeans alone was out of date, he argued.

The Bangkok Post reported that Mr Korn, too, said he believed that the IMF should adjust its practices with the aim of attracting the most suitable candidate, regardless of nationality.

Other names from developing economies mentioned as possible candidates include Tharman Shanmugaratnam from Singapore (the choice of Thailand and the Philippines), Montek Singh Ahluwalia from India and Mohamed El-Erian from Egypt. – AFP, The Phuket News

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