World monetary policeman ponders own reform

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2007 (AFP) – IMF policymakers on Saturday are to press on with a campaign to save their 60-year-old body from irrelevance at a time when their sister institution, the World Bank, has been shaken by a pay scandal involving its president, Paul Wolfowitz.

The International Monetary Fund’s steering committee, representing the Fund’s 185 members, is struggling to implement far-reaching reforms against opposition from richer powers that fear a loss of influence.

The committee’s one-day meeting here is also competing for attention from a burgeoning scandal at the World Bank, its partner in international finance and development, which has riveted global financial circles.

Wolfowitz, after a stormy two-year tenure at the bank, is facing a barrage of calls from bank staffers and advocacy groups to resign despite having won the backing of the US government.

He stands stands accused of helping arrange a massive pay hike for his Libyan-born girlfriend, former World Bank communications specialist Shaha Riza, when she was transferred to the US State Department in 2005.

Wolfowitz on Thursday admitted to errors in the procedure under which the pay package was approved and on Friday received the support of President George W. Bush, for whom as a