Wednesday, March 07, 2007

World Bank and IMF Collaboration, the February 2007 Report

When I read the “Rome Declaration on Harmonization” February 2003, were the word harmonization was mentioned 19 times in 8 pages, I loudly protested since I felt that it sounded a lot like killing of the debates around many difficult development issues, agreeing on strategies in some smoke-free rooms in Washington, instead of bringing out all the inherent conflicts of risks and having them openly discussed in all the different capitals of the world, and hopefully among its citizens too. I cried out loud. “If ownership is to mean anything you must at least allow them to own the debate.”

Thankfully after many discussions (not with me though) the World Bank and the IMF have now in February come out with their “Report of the External Review Committee on Bank-Fund Collaboration” and thankfully harmonization is almost gone and the emphasis is almost completely on collaboration, which of course is a totally different issue.

Now in this Report of 58 ages the word “harmonization” appears only twice, and in the same paragraph, as follows:

5. Collaboration on fiscal issues: • There needs to be improved integration and harmonization of work on fiscal issues. As noted in the joint 2003 staff review of Bank–Fund Collaboration on Public Expenditure Issues, the key to an effective partnership on public finance management is not found in a formal division of roles, but in the harmonization of recommendations.

I have no qualms at all with that, although when they in the next paragraph state, In terms of ‘fiscal space’, there should be no suggestion that there is a trade-off between short-term stability and long-term growth. These are complementary, not competing, objectives, e.o.q, I would have included the caveat that this is true as long as you avoided too much short-term stability, since staying in bed, does not correlate much either with development.