Congress appears ready to OK IMF overhaul, giving China, other developing nations more clout

WASHINGTON – Congress appears ready to approve a long-delayed overhaul of the International Monetary Fund, giving more voting power at the global lending agency to fast-growing emerging-market countries such as China and India.

The changes are included in a tax-and-spending bill that lawmakers are scrambling to pass by week’s end.

“We take note of the inclusion in the bill of language that would authorize the IMF’s 2010 Quota and Governance Reforms by the U.S. Congress,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in a statement. “We look forward to the outcome of the legislative process.”

American lawmakers had balked at approving the overhaul, which recognizes the increasing economic influence of China and other developing countries. The delay drew international criticism of the United States, including a rebuke last December from IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.

China, for instance, is now the world’s second-biggest economy, but its share of the IMF vote is No. 6 at less than 3.7 per cent of the total. Under the changes, China’s share would rise to nearly 6.1 per cent, making it No. 3. Likewise, India, now No. 11 in voting share, would rise to No. 8. The United States would remain No. 1 by far — but its voting clout would drop slightly — from 16.7 per cent to a little less than 16.5 per cent.