WASHINGTON, 15 OCTOBER 2012 —The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it will distribute about US$1.1 billion in reserves attributed to windfall gold sales profits to its members in order to boost its concessional lending capacity for the Caribbean and other low-income countries during the global crisis. The Washington-based financial institution said the distribution is a key element of a 2009 plan to boost concessional lending capacity to US$17 billion over the five years to 2014.
It said the decision authorizing the distribution was taken by the executive board in February 2012, “to become effective only after IMF members have provided satisfactory assurances that new amounts equivalent to at least 90 per cent of the amount distributed would be transferred or otherwise provided to the IMF’s concessional lending vehicle, the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT).”
The IMF said the 90 per cent threshold has been reached with assurances received from countries, including those from the Caribbean, such as Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, meaning the distribution can now take place.
“This is a wonderful achievement that demonstrates our members’ determination to ensure the IMF has the wherewithal to support its low-income members through this crisis,” said IMF managing director Christine Lagarde. “For many countries, this process has involved complex legal or legislative steps, and it is a tribute to our membership that we have arrived at the required level in just a few months,” she added. She said because gold sales profits are part of the IMF’s general resources available for the benefit of the entire membership, they cannot be placed directly in the PRGT, which is available only to low-income member countries.
Accordingly, Lagarde said using these resources for PRGT financing required a distribution of the resources to all IMF member countries in proportion to their quota shares, “on the expectation that members would direct the Fund to transfer these resources (or would provide broadly equivalent amounts) to the PRGT as subsidy contributions.”
She said the resources raised through the operation will count towards the 2009 package’s target of raising an additional US$2.3 billion in PRGT subsidies. Lagarde said the balance is being raised from other sources, including additional bilateral contributions, which the IMF continues to seek from member countries.
The IMF said it sold 403.3 metric tons of gold in 2009-10 as part of a plan to ensure the long-term financing of the IMF’s day-to-day operations through the creation of an endowment using anticipated gold sales profits of about US$6.8 billion. It said high world gold prices during the sales period, over and above the US$850 an ounce envisaged when the sales were originally planned, generated “windfall” profits of about US$3.8 billion.