Digital boost in IMF’s budget

23 Apr 19

The IMF is reallocating resources to its work within individual countries and to undertake an ambitious digital modernisation agenda.

Priorities in the fund’s latest budget include increased resources for operations in low-income countries and fragile states and to improve governance and the fight against corruption.

More emphasis will also be placed on macro-financial surveillance and efforts to support multilateralism, according to the medium-term budget for 2020–2022 recently approved by the organisation’s executive board.

The budget comes against the backdrop of a weakened global outlook and financial volatility, and aims to reflect a strategic agenda at the IMF to help countries strengthen resilience to shocks and implement structural reforms.

Although the net administrative budget for 2020 remains unchanged in real terms – the eighth year in a row that this has been the case, and in net terms amounting to $1.3bn –  there have been reallocations within it of about 3%.

Fund-financed structural resources are projected to shift towards country work and away from internal operations, and reallocation between work on policy advice and economic analysis is also envisaged.

There has also been an increase in the amount allocated to security in order meet rising cyber and physical security costs.

The IMF’s 2020 capital budget, set at $86m, provides financing for important modernisation projects, including capital projects to build facilities and IT that involve major initiatives to introduce modern digital platforms and tools.

Referred to by the IMF as the ‘Big 5’, these projects aim to improve the fund’s processes and capabilities in human resources, capacity development, and data and knowledge management.

Fund managers indicate that these changes also aim to respond to underlying structural trends affecting country members, such as the challenges posed by rapid technological and financial innovations like ‘fintech’ and concerns about the future of work in a digital world.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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