The FINANCIAL — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on October 1 released its 2015 Annual Report that highlights its efforts to spur stronger and more inclusive growth amid unexpected economic developments and challenges that have required rapid adjustments. The Report comes ahead of the IMF’s Annual Meetings with the World Bank in Lima, Peru, next week. It features a new approach that blends essays and graphics, and, as always, emphasizes the work of the IMF’s Executive Board, whose policy guidance is central to the efforts to ensure global financial stability and growth.
“It was a year of innovation across the institution,” said Managing Director Christine Lagarde in her introduction to the Annual Report 2015—Tackling Challenges Together. “Pilot programs aimed at embedding in our country work the research on inclusive growth and gender that has been conducted in recent years; online training courses available to both officials and the wider public; the launch of a free data initiative; and cooperation with member countries on Islamic finance.”
Total lending approved in the past financial year was the highest since 2011, the report notes, and the IMF introduced a number of initiatives and pilot programs to buttress analytical and other support for its 188 member countries.
During the year, the IMF faced key challenges, including the sudden, steep decline of oil prices,; and the Ebola pandemic in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, where the IMF moved quickly to ensure the three governments could respond to the crisis and get their economies moving again. The IMF also provided support to several member countries addressing difficult economic and financial circumstances. During the year, the Board approved $112 billion in financing for nine countries, plus $2.7 billion in low- or zero-interest loans for 17 low-income developing countries. In addition, the IMF provided $242 million in expert advice and training to countries across the globe, according to IMF.
The Annual Report 2015 covers the work of the IMF’s Executive Board and contains financial statements for the fiscal year. It describes the IMF’s support for its 188 member countries, with an emphasis on the “big three” core areas of IMF responsibility: assessing their economic and financial policies, providing financing where needed, and delivering expert advice and training in key areas of economic policy. As part of its economic surveillance, the IMF conducted 131 country health checks, as well as assessments on the financial sector and the international impact of individual countries’ policies (“spillovers”).
Its expert advice and training—, which it calls capacity development—accounts for one quarter of the IMF’s activities, and has been on the rise for five years. Chief among the topics in demand are fiscal affairs, as countries across the globe struggle with the lasting impact of the global financial crisis.
The report highlights key activities in different regions, including events in Latin America along the “Road to Lima,” leading up to the annual meetings in Peru; the past 25 years in eastern and central Europe; and the 70th anniversary of the IMF. The “Looking Ahead” section describes how the IMF plans to build on the achievements of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and support climate policy by getting energy prices right.