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Youssef Boutros Ghali appointed chairman of the IMFC
Published in Daily News Egypt on 07 - 10 - 2008

CAIRO: In a widely anticipated move, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) appointed Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali as Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) Monday.
The appointment marked the first time a non-Westerner will head the committee which is largely responsible for recommending IMF policy.
Ghali, who has served as Egyptian Finance Minister since 2004, will replace former Italian Finance Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa right as finance ministers of IMF member states meet for one of their bi-annual meetings.
His election comes at a critical time of intense panic over turmoil in the global economy.
"The man is exceedingly competent, bestselling author Galal Amin told the Daily News of Boutros Ghali. "He's probably one of the most competent finance ministers in the Third World, if not in the world at large.
The 24-member IMFC, which was formed in 1974, serves in an advisory role to the IMF's Board of Governors.
"The IMFC advises the Board of Governors on supervising the management and adaptation of the international monetary system, said a statement issued by the IMF about the appointment, "and dealing with sudden disturbances that might threaten the stability of the system.
Filling the latter role may prove to be Ghali's greatest challenge as the collapse of financial institutions on Wall Street threaten the global economy at large.
The committee's 24 members, in their landmark selection, will make Ghali the committee's 17th chairman.
Interestingly, for a post that has long been dominated by Europeans (and one Canadian), the top two contenders for the position came from developing countries.
Ghali edged out Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram by a vote of 12 to 10, with two abstentions.
The election between the two men represented an increased focus by the IMF on developing countries, which might prove most vulnerable to the current economic crisis.
"There has been criticism of the IMF, said Amin, "going on for some time that it's not fully representative of the whole world, particularly the Third World.
"I am not really surprised that the IMF should meet this criticism or bow to it, he added.
Ghali has been praised by many in Egypt for his steadfast commitment to promoting growth and strength in the Egyptian economy. The IMF called him a reformer in its announcement.
He has also endured criticism for his tax policy as well as for his inability to control domestic inflation which has had deep impact on food prices countrywide.
Others bemoan his policies, which they say help those at the top of the socioeconomic ladder, while leaving the lower rungs without recourse.
Despite divergent opinions on Ghali's performance as Egypt's Finance Minister, his selection to head the IMFC is recognition both of the importance of developing countries to the global economy and to Egypt's position as a gateway to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. - Additional reporting by Reuters.


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