Embry, King, Morgan, and Murphy join Puplava on ''Financial Sense Newshour''

Section:

By Sumeet Desai
Reuters
Friday, July 9, 2004

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?storyID=5633567

VATICAN CITY -- UK Chancellor of the Exchequer
(finance minister) Gordon Brown on Friday called
on the International Monetary Fund to revalue its
gold reserves as a way of releasing more money
for debt relief for the world's poorest countries.

Brown, who is also chairman of the International
Monetary Committee, the IMF's policy-setting group,
told a seminar organised by the Catholic church in
Vatican City that debt relief is both a moral and
economic issue.

"While 100 percent of bilateral debt of the poorest
countries is canceled by many donors, in practice
only 50 percent or less of multilateral debt is being
canceled," he said.

"So to do more to complete the process of debt
relief, we propose to the international community
that we consider anew all options to finance
further debt relief for the poorest countries,
including making better use of IMF gold."

Most of the IMF's gold is valued at $40 an ounce
under a 1971 agreement, though some was
revalued at market prices in the late 1990s to
finance the Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC)
debt relief initiative.

That delivered more than $2.5 billion of debt relief
through off-market gold transactions.

Treasury officials said the proposal was to adjust
the paper value of the IMF's gold to current market
prices of around $400 an ounce to generate more
funds for debt relief.

Britain was not suggesting that the IMF sell its
gold -- something which could push the market
price down and hit poor countries that depend on
gold exports.

An IMF spokesman in Washington declined to
comment.

Brown also used the seminar to raise pressure on
the United States and Germany in particular to
back his idea for an International Finance Facility.

He said the creation of the IFF could double aid to
the world's poorest countries to $100 billion a year
by issuing bonds in the international capital markets
using donor countries' long-term commitments as
collateral.

Brown said this money was urgently needed if the
Millennium Development Goals of halving world
poverty were to be met by 2015.

"The IFF will enable us to deploy the critical mass
of predictable, stable, and coordinated aid as
investment over the next few years when it will have
the most impact on achieving the targets -- saving
lives that would otherwise be lost," he said.

More than 50 countries, including France, are
supporting the creation of the IFF but the United
States and Germany have so far not given the plan
their full backing at Group of Seven meetings.

The IMF and World Bank are expected to produce
a report on the scheme in time for their annual
meetings later this year.

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