India uncommitted over new IMF chief

24th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

India's finance minister said Tuesday he was in touch with his counterparts on choosing a new IMF head, but declined to back calls from other emerging countries for a non-European to be put in charge.

Senior Indian economic advisor Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a key force in India's economic liberalisation drive, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the International Monetary Fund top job.

When asked about a new managing director for the 60-year-old lender coming from a developing country, Pranab Mukherjee told reporters: "There are set procedures.

"We shall have to keep in mind that it is a financial institution. Shareholding and voting power are relevant factors," Mukherjee said, adding "normally, we decide through the process of consensus building."

India has not put forward a candidate for the managing director's position.

But the Indian government's top economic adviser Kaushik Basu has said he views Ahluwalia, deputy head of the nation's planning commission, as "the best name... not only from India's point of view but from the world's".

European nations are keen to keep their longstanding hold over the leadership of the global lender but some emerging market nations such as Mexico have said it is time for an IMF chief from outside the continent.

Mexico on Monday put forward its central bank governor Agustin Carstens against French favourite Christine Lagarde, saying developing nations needed a larger role in implementing IMF policies.

European nations hold close to one-third of the IMF's voting power while the United States has nearly 17 percent; Asian nations hold around 20 percent with the rest held by other countries.

Lagarde has emerged as the leading candidate, receiving the support of many European nations, including Britain.

China has also said it would back Lagarde as the next IMF chief, the French government said on Tuesday, although Beijing has refused to comment.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn quit last week as head of the IMF to defend himself against charges in New York of attempted rape of a hotel employee.

"Our executive directors (at the IMF) are meeting and exchanging views (on a new head) and I am regularly being informed what is happening," Mukherjee said.

Last week, the IMF board pledged "an open, merit-based, and transparent" selection process based on consensus, though it could come to a board vote.

© 2011 AFP

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