The significant role that parliaments can play in a range of economic and social issues has not been lost on the IMF. The IMF has expanded its outreach to parliamentarians (see IMF Survey, November 17, 2003, pages 343-44) and for the past few years has been working closely with the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank through participation in its annual conferences (see IMF Survey, March 31, 2003, page 89), regional meetings, and field visits.
In remarks to participants, Agustín Carstens, IMF Deputy Managing Director, emphasized that his organization has attached increased importance to a continuing and expanding dialogue with parliamentarians-a point that was also made by Pierre Duquesne, France's Executive Director at the World Bank and the IMF. Carstens noted that this greater attention to the role of legislators reflected, in part, increased openness and transparency at the IMF, but it was also indicative of the increased attention being paid to national ownership of reforms.
Duquesne underlined that the Executive Boards are more and more responsive to the necessity of taking into consideration the economic policies of countries covered and their desire to have regular and various relations with parliaments. In this context, he drew participants' attention to the recent report by the Working Group of IMF Executive Directors on Enhancing Communication with National Legislators and invited their comments. That report, which, among other recommendations, calls on the IMF to make a greater effort to enhance the dialogue with legislators, can be found at http://www.imf.org/external/ np/ed/2004/ecnl/index.htm. Comments on the report are welcome by April 30, 2004.
Amid deepening concern that many countries are not on course to reach the MDGs by 2015, James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, suggested that the international community seems to be losing its way on this initiative. He pointed out that although annual global spending on defense stands at $1 trillion and agricultural subsidies or equivalent total $300 billion, only $55 billion is spent on development aid. "What is needed," he said, "is not just a bold push here and there but a concerted and deep-seated insurgency on behalf of development and peace." Parliamentarians in particular were urged to play a greater role in monitoring their country's...