Exclusive: Russia wants IMF to move ahead on reforms without U.S. - sources

Thu Mar 6, 2014 11:16am EST
 
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By Anna Yukhananov and Lidia Kelly

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian officials are pushing for the International Monetary Fund to move ahead with planned reforms without the United States, which could mean the loss of the U.S. veto over major decisions at the global lender, sources said.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov brought up the idea at a meeting of top finance officials from the Group of 20 nations in Sydney late last month, two G20 sources told Reuters this week.

The failure of the U.S. Congress to approve IMF funding has held up reforms agreed in 2010 that would double the Fund's resources and give more say to emerging markets like China.

The United States is the only country that holds a controlling share of IMF votes, meaning its approval is necessary for any major decision to go forward.

Moving ahead on reforms without Washington would likely require complicated changes to the IMF's rules. But the discussions show the level of frustration within the G20 with the Obama administration's inability to win the needed congressional support.

A third source would not confirm it was Russia that brought up the issue, but said the G20 generally agreed to give the United States until the April meetings of the IMF and World Bank before taking more aggressive measures, a point confirmed by one of the other sources. All three sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

"It was agreed that in the absence of progress by the United States on the 2010 package by the April meeting of the IMF and G20, that there will be formulated a list of 'bad options,' which will allow to move forward in this matter, excluding the opinions of the United States," the third source said.

For a year, the Obama administration has been trying to get Congress to approve a shift of some $63 billion from an IMF crisis fund to its general accounts in order to make good on its 2010 commitment.   Continued...

 
Russia's Finance Minister Anton Siluanov holds a news briefing after a G20 meeting at the start of the annual IMF-World Bank fall meetings in Washington, October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst