IMF chief says has around $316 bln in funding pledges


The head of the International Monetary Fund said member countries had committed $316 billion toward new IMF resources to help contain the debt crisis in the euro zone.
“We have commitments in excess of $316 billion and I have more in the bag,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told the Bertelsmann Foundation think tank, speaking before meetings of global finance chiefs in Washington.

The figure is more than the $286 billion tallied on Tuesday after Japan, Sweden and Denmark said they would contribute the IMF pot of money, Reuters reports.

The meetings of the World Bank and IMF member countries, which officially start on Friday, will try to raise around “$400 billion for the IMF, an issue that has taken on new urgency given increased borrowing costs in Spain and Italy that has reignited fears that the euro zone crisis will flare again.

Lagarde did not say where the additional money had come from. On Tuesday, Japan pledged $60 billion to the IMF, becoming the first non-European nation to commit to strengthen the Fund’s financial arsenal.

Sweden said it would commit $10 billion and increase the amount to $14.7 billion later, while Denmark said it would give $7 billion. Norway pledged $9.6 billion in December in addition to $200 billion from the European Union.

More countries are expected to pony up funds in coming days as the meetings get underway. The Group of 20 developed and emerging economies will meet on Friday, where IMF resources are likely to dominate discussions.

Emerging market countries, including China, Brazil and Russia, have so far not committed any funding. They have said that any new resources should be accompanied by more voting power in the global lender.

The United States, which is facing a general election in November, has said it will not be part of the fundraising effort. However, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner earlier on Wednesday threw its support behind the bid to boost IMF resources.

Lagarde said global economic conditions were fragile at best and “extremely unstable.”

She said slightly stronger growth in the United States and improved policies in the euro zone to deal with the sovereign debt crisis meant risks to the global economic outlook had abated.

However, she added: “All of that together is giving a little bit of optimism but very tempered by instability that can be triggered by any development on the market.”