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US leaders urge Congress to ratify IMF reforms

The International Monetary Fund is seen June 5, 2011 in Washington, DC
The International Monetary Fund is seen June 5, 2011 in Washington, DC. Nineteen US leaders, including former Treasury secretaries, urged Congress Tuesday to ratify IMF reforms and remove the key obstacle to its implementation.

Nineteen US leaders, including former Treasury secretaries, urged Congress Tuesday to ratify International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms and remove the key obstacle to its implementation.

"A stronger IMF, driven by US leadership, supports US and global interests," they wrote in a letter to the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives.

"We therefore urge the Congress to continue its longstanding, bipartisan support of the International Monetary Fund for our self-interest and for the good of the global system."

The signatories of the March 5 dated letter, coordinated by The Bretton Woods Committee, include ex-Treasury secretaries Henry Paulson and Larry Summers, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and former World Bank president Robert Zoellick.

In December 2010 the IMF board of governors approved major reforms of the Washington-based global lender which give greater voting power to emerging-market economies and doubles quotas, the contributions members make to its financial resources.

To take effect, the reforms need approval of 113 of the Fund's 188 members, representing 85 percent of the voting rights on the board.

The United States, by far the IMF's biggest stakeholder, has 16.7 percent voting rights.

But the reforms, which maintain the US veto power over major decisions at the IMF, require approval by Congress.

President Barack Obama's administration, which had pushed the reforms in 2010, remains committed to seeing them approved but faces a bitterly divided Congress: Obama's Democrats control the Senate but Republicans hold the House.

In their letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Leader John Boehner, the signatories underscored the importance of US support of the Fund "because of the returns it brings to our nation going forward."

Those benefits include advancing economic and national security interests and "sustaining global leadership and influence in the IMF."

"Continued support will ensure the US' ability to leverage its economic development dollars and ensure its on-going influence on the IMF to prioritize areas we deem critical, such as improving governance, privatization, and strengthened financial systems," they wrote.

In mid-February, the US Treasury Department said it was actively working with Congress to get the reforms ratified but provided no detail on a timetable.

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