Civil society calls for public comment period on new IMF guidance note for staff on surveillance

12 April 2022 | Letters

Civil society organisations have written an open letter to the IMF’s Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, and Director of the Strategy, Policy and Review Department, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, requesting their support for a public comment period on a new guidance note for staff that will guide the IMF’s implementation of its 2021 Comprehensive Surveillance Review (CSR; see Observer Summer 2021).

The letter, signed by 10 organisations including Arab Watch Coalition and Eurodad, notes that while the guidance note is scheduled to be published in the coming months, civil society has thus been given insufficient information on the IMF’s proposals to be provide feedback concrete feedback on the note.

The guidance note is expected to set new parameters outlining how the IMF will integrate key issues – including climate, gender, and inequality – into its Article IV surveillance, which it carries out annually in IMF member countries as part of its mandate (see Inside the Institutions, IMF surveillance).

The letter contends: “We believe it is vital to engage substantively with this guidance note because of our experience with the IMF’s previous attempts to incorporate macro-critical analysis of ‘emerging issues’ into its core work, which has seen a disconnect between policy goals and implementation. Staff consistently expressed confusion and even cynicism toward new policies, and were at times resistant to consider emerging issues ‘macro-critical’, due to the ‘limited real estate’ of Article IV surveillance documents.”

The letter concludes, “The CSR guidance note will formalize important new parameters for the coverage of the principles set out in the 2021 Comprehensive Surveillance Review. We believe that it is critical for key decisions on how and when the Fund considers issues to be ‘macro-critical’ to be open to public scrutiny and based on inputs from outside experts. An important first step in this regard would be the IMF inviting comments on a full draft version of the CSR guidance note, in order for the Fund to receive concrete feedback on its proposed approach to the implementation of the CSR.”