2004 was a bumper year for new acronyms from the masters of the art form. But three new outstanding additions deserve special mention:
Silliest acronym of the year: Goes to the IMF trade team for the TIM. The Fund’s new Trade Integration Mechanism, meant to compensate losers from trade liberalisation, left governments cold and men named Tim confused. If not for the keen eye of the designers of the Fund’s new Policy Monitoring Arrangement, a Fund programme for countries who don’t want a Fund programme, lonely TIM could have been paired with an unloved PAM.
Earth-shattering change award: Shared by the Bank and the Fund, this award goes to the architects of the replacement for Joint Staff Assessments, or JSA, much maligned documents which ensured IFI control over national development plans. Ownership is being embraced and old ideas thrown away with the introduction of the Joint Staff Advisory note (JSAn).
But first prize goes to the Bank for its re-definition of an acronym which had been developed through a decade of international debate over the rights of indigenous peoples. The Bank took the concept of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), central to discussions on the Extractive Industries Review, and presto-chango, came up with Free, Prior and Informed Consultation (FPIC). All of the letters – none of the meaning.