Lagarde Says IMF Needs ‘Flexibility’ in Setting Aid Terms

Christine Lagarde, France’s finance minister and a candidate to become managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said the lender needs to show “flexibility” when setting aid terms for developing nations.

“We must adapt to the diversity of economies, to the diversity of the levels of development,” she told reporters in Lisbon today, where she met with African finance ministers gathering for the annual meeting of the African Development Bank. “I’m very open-minded as to the exact size, nature, scope, length and interest rates that be allowed in certain circumstances. We can’t apply standard rules.”

Some emerging-market countries have called for an end to the convention of naming World Bank presidents from the U.S. and the head of the IMF from Europe. The 187-member IMF aims to pick a successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn by the end of June, after he resigned last month following his arrest in New York on charges of attempted rape and sexual assault.

IMF aid should help create jobs and sustainable growth, and not exclusively focus on fiscal consolidation, Lagarde said. The fund “must serve its entire membership,” she said. “It is not the property of anybody.”

Lagarde’s assurances that the IMF would cater to the needs of developing nations may soften opposition to her bid from Africa.

“You are a friend of Africa,” Donald Kaberuka, the president of the African Development Bank, said at a lunch that the Tunis-based lender hosted for Lagarde. “You know Africa. Whatever you do in the future, you will always think about the continent.”

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