|I.M.F. Chief Rodrigo de Rato speaking at opening meeting in Singapore|
Developing countries were the main subject last week at yearly meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Finance ministers met for two days in Singapore.
Members of the I.M.F. approved reform measures that aim to increase the voting power of countries with growing economies. As a first step, they agreed to increases in the voting rights for China, South Korea, Mexico and Turkey. These four countries were considered the least represented given the size of their economies.
The fund has one hundred eighty-four members. Currently, the weight of each government’s vote is based on the amount of money it provides to the international lender. China, South Korea, Mexico and Turkey will increase their I.M.F. shareholdings, so their voting rights will increase.
The reforms call for the I.M.F. to develop a way to rebalance voting rights for other countries within two years.
Critics say the United States and other Western nations have too much influence in the fund. Aid groups and activists have been pressuring the I.M.F. and World Bank to give poor countries more power in those organizations.
Another issue discussed in Singapore was corruption in the aid process. World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said good governance is the fastest way out of poverty. Without it, he said, all other reforms are meaningless. He also urged rich nations to take action against companies doing dishonest business in developing countries.
Humanitarian groups say they worry that too much effort to prevent and punish corruption could stop aid from reaching those most in need. But World Bank officials say they will withdraw from projects only when dishonest officials are clearly not interested in reform.
Mister Wolfowitz and I.M.F. chief Rodrigo de Rato also called for increased aid for the poorest countries, especially in Africa. At the same time, the World Bank president said partly developed, or middle-income, countries should not be forgotten in the fight against poverty.
The two leaders expressed concern that high oil prices, international trade imbalances and barriers to trade could harm economic growth. They said the best ways to continue growth are to save energy and to restart world trade talks. Negotiations were suspended in July over disputes about agricultural trade.
And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. You can download transcripts and archives of our reports at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Shep O'Neal.