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OPENING STATEMENT TO THE PRESS
BY
H.E. TARRIN NIMMANAHAEMINDA
CHAIRMAN, IMF-IBRD DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
OCTOBER 5, 1998

Thank you for coming.

As you know, this was my first meeting as Chairman of the Development Committee. I found the forum to be a very useful interchange among ministers on important issues. We considered issues of particular concern to the emerging markets and middle income countries but which have now taken on a global character. We also addressed several issues of immediate concern to the very poorest countries; and we discussed a number of issues about the Bank and the Fund's resources.

Let me just mention a few highlights of our work today.

1. Implications of the Asian Crisis. (Paragraphs 3-10) We focussed particularly on development priorities and the role of the World Bank Group. There was great appreciation expressed by Ministers for the Bank's rapid response to the crisis, and for its efforts to help countries around the world contain the crisis and establish a solid base for resumption of long-term growth. Ministers were particularly concerned about the impact of the crisis-in Asia and around the world-on people, and they urged the Bank to work closely with governments to strength support for the social sectors. They agreed as well with the priority being given to the financial sector and to corporate governance by the Bank. In this connection, we also discussed the importance of maintaining the financial strength of the World Bank so that it could continue to provide needed support to all its members.

2. Bank-Fund Collaboration. The Committee Welcomed the efforts of the President and Managing Director to strengthen Bank/Fund cooperation in ways which will enhance service to member governments. I have seen how useful these two institutions are in Thailand, and we appreciate all that they are already doing together very well. But the additional steps they plan to take to reflect the new global realities were welcomed by all ministers.

3. Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC). The Committee continues to see this comprehensive initiative to reduce the debt burden of the poorest countries as a major development. They supported an extension of the entry date for the program by two years and encouraged as many additional countries as possible to join the program.

4. Post-conflict Countries. Ministers discussed the special problems of countries just emerging from conflict, and the problems they have in obtaining resources for development, especially from international financial institutions. The Committee asked the Bank and Fund to work with others to develop an approach to addressing these problems, including the difficult policy issues raised for the Bank and the Fund.

5. IDA. Many Ministers stressed the importance of completing the IDA 12 replenishment by the end of the year, as concessional resources were needed more than ever. They encouraged full funding for the IMF's ESAF as well.

We would be happy to take your questions.


Posted:   08/10/98