Geldof urges IMF to use gold profits to aid Africa

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Bob Geldof on Thursday urged the IMF to use bumper gold sale profits to help Africa survive the global financial crisis, and criticised the rich world for lavishing aid on its banks while the poor world starved.
“We’re all begging for aid. We just call it fiscal stimulus these days,” the anti-poverty activist and rock music celebrity told a press conference after meeting International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
“You cannot simply ignore an entire continent…The figures we’re talking about for one billion people are a fraction of the money we’re dumping into our own system,” he said.
Reuters says Geldof described his meeting with Strauss-Kahn as good, and said that he understood there would be structural problems in having to rework already approved gold sales, which are linked to other agreements to boost the resources of the IMF.
Advocates do not want the IMF to sell more of its gold, just make better use of profits from the sale of 403 tonnes of gold from its stockpile of 3217 tonnes that have been agreed.
“What is being asked for is not very much,” African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka told the press conference, held under the banner of the ONE campaign group.
The IMF last year approved the gold sales and invest the profits in an endowment to put its finances on a more stable footing.
The Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies agreed at a summit on April 2 in London to use some of the gold sale money to support an additional $6 billion of concessional and flexible finance to the world’s poorest countries.
Anti-poverty advocates says this only employs $1 billion of what they say is a $5.2 billion unexpected profit from the gold sales, and Africa should get it all.
“The IMF can’t be greedy with its gold. The Fund’s member countries can’t hold on to the profits created by the recent gold price hike” said Oxfam advocacy director Bernice Romero.
IMF gold sales have been approved by the IMF’s executive board of directors, but still needs the agreement of some countries lawmakers, including the US Congress.
“There is an opportunity here because of the increase in (gold) value…to help countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Democrat from New York, told the press conference. Failure to act will put at risk “all the progress made in the last 10 to 15 years,” he said.