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Euro zone needs to 'rethink' IMF role

Tremonti says area gets less than it puts in

16 March, 16:25
Euro zone needs to 'rethink' IMF role (ANSA) - Brussels, March 16 - The euro zone needs to 'rethink' its position and role in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) given that it is giving to it more than it is receiving, Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti said on Tuesday.

"Does it seem normal that while the area has a common problem, Greece, we are all split up within the IMF? And while the bloc is one of the leading shareholders in the IMF, we can't use its resources?" Tremonti asked on the sidelines of a meeting of EU economy and finance (ECOFIN) ministers.

"Something is not right, there is too great a difference between what we put in and what we get out. Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea for us to just hold on to some of the contributions we give to the IMF," he added.

Tremonti was referring to the funds European central banks give the IMF and the so-called special drawing rights.

"Whatever Europe decides will be fine with us, in the hope it will be the right choice," Tremonti said.

In response to Greece's financial problems, Germany last week suggested the euro zone create its own European Monetary Fund (EMF) with powers similar to tose of the IMF in order to help out members in the future.

Tremonti at the time recalled how a similar proposal, for a bailout fund for the banking sector, was rejected by the EU in October 2008 and said "perhaps the time has come to reconsider the idea".

The EMF idea won the support of the European Commission but observers noted that such a plan would have significant legal and political hurdles and entail the approval of a new treaty. The 16-nation euro zone is made up of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

During the ECOFIN meeting, Tremonti said that in regard to a possible bailout plan for Greece, Italy "wants a full understanding of all the options and in order to choose the best one. Our preference is for the most European and coordinated solution possible".

photo: Giulio Tremonti

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