IFI governance


Revolving doors: Portugal ex-minister appointed at the IMF

31 March 2014

In February, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, appointed Vitor Gaspar, a Portuguese national, as director of the fiscal affairs department at the Fund, from June. Gaspar previously served as Portugal’s finance minister under a centre-left government from 2011 to 2013. Gaspar inherited a one month old lending programme with the Troika (comprising the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF), which had led to the dissolution of the previous government. Gaspar strengthened the implementation of the programme, which included tax increases, spending cuts in state health care and education, and wage reductions in the civil service (see Update 84). Isabel Castro from Portugal’s Citizens’ Debt Audit Initiative (IAC) explained that during his time as finance minister, Gaspar became “the most influential political actor, responsible for designing and imposing the austerity measures and adjustment programme in Portugal. Portuguese people were used as guinea pigs to test a programme that gave priority to the interests of creditors, and many people considered Gaspar the fourth member of the Troika, due to his personal and complete engagement with the policies adopted.”

The unpopularity of these austerity measures forced Gaspar to resign in July 2013. Gaspar will take over at the IMF from Italian Carlo Cottarelli who has become commissioner for public spending reform in Italy. Isabel Castro said that “Gaspar’s designation to the IMF is an obvious invitation for him to come back to his natural space.”