IMF voices some concerns on Central Bank

Wednesday 28 May 2014 07.30
IMF raises questions about the independence of the Central Bank
IMF raises questions about the independence of the Central Bank

The International Monetary Fund has raised questions about the independence of the Central Bank.

In an assessment report, the Fund said there were impediments to the bank attracting and retaining high calibre staff. 

It suggested changes to its pay structure were needed to deal with the difficulty in recruiting and retaining appropriate skills.

It also said it had concerns that an official from the Department of Finance sits on the Central Bank Commission.

However, it added that there were no indications of interference in any day-to-day operations.

Meanwhile, progress to overhaul the global banking sector and prevent another financial crisis has been "too slow", International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warned yesterday.

"The good news is that the international community has made progress on the reform agenda," Lagarde said at a conference in central London.

"This is especially true for banking regulation under the auspices of the Basel Committee, where we are moving forward with stronger capital and liquidity requirements. This should make the system safer, sounder, and more service oriented," Ms Lagarde said.

"The bad news is that progress is still too slow, and the finish line is still too far off," she added.

Lagarde, blamed a variety of factors for the lack of progress. "Some of this arises from the sheer complexity of the task at hand. Yet, we must acknowledge that it also stems from fierce industry pushback, and from the fatigue that is bound to set in at this point in a long race," she said.

The IMF chief urged tougher regulation of the sector, and called for global agreement on a "framework" to allow "megabanks" to unwind "in an orderly way in case of failure".

"Ending too-big-to-fail must be a priority. That means tougher regulation and tighter supervision," she said.

Lagarde added that the behaviour of the financial industry had not changed since the 2008 crisis.

"The behaviour of the financial sector has not changed fundamentally in a number of dimensions since the crisis," Lagarde said.

"While some changes in behaviour are taking place, these are not deep or broad enough. The industry still prizes short-term profit over long-term prudence, today's bonus over tomorrow's relationship."

Lagarde cited various scandals that have blighted the sector in recent years, and urged the adoption of stronger ethics.

"Some prominent firms have even been mired in scandals that violate the most basic ethical norms - Libor and foreign exchange rigging, money laundering, illegal foreclosure," Lagarde said.

"To restore trust, we need a shift toward greater integrity and accountability.

"We need a stronger and systematic ethical dimension," the IMF chief stated.