IMF urged to use gold profits to aid poor nations

WASHINGTON, April 4 (Reuters) – A global coalition of
development groups on Monday urged the International Monetary
Fund to use windfalls from the sale of 403.3 tonnes of IMF gold
to write off the debts of poor countries.

The coalition of 58 groups, including Oxfam, ActionAid,
ONE, global Jubilee networks and the International Trade Union
Confederation, put the windfall at $2.8 billion. The IMF
declined to confirm the number.

IMF member countries begin talks this week on what to do
with the profits from the gold sales, which were completed in
December amid record prices in bullion. [ID:nN21131060]

“The moral choice is clear: the IMF should use its excess
money for debt cancellation and non-debt creating assistance
for the poorest,” said Melinda St. Louise, Jubilee USA’s deputy
director.

In a joint statement, the groups noted that the external
debts of poor countries have increased as they faced the global
economic downturn and now rising food and fuel prices.

They said the IMF would consider in the meeting on
Wednesday three ways to use the gold profits: absorbing the
funds into an endowment; placing the money into a reserve fund;
and using it to assist poor countries hit by financial and
other crises.

An IMF spokesman confirmed that discussions on the matter
would begin shortly, ahead of meetings of global finance chiefs
in Washington starting next week.

“The executive board will have a preliminary discussion on
the use of excess gold profits soon,” IMF spokesman Alistair
Thomson told Reuters. “We expect the Board will consider a
range of possible options,” he added.

In highlighting the problems faced by impoverished
countries, the group noted that Sierra Leone saw its external
debt double and in 2011 it will spend more on servicing its
debts than on health care.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Leslie Adler)

IMF urged to use gold profits to aid poor nations