The International Monetary Fund is best known for doling out financial advice to governments and supporting programs that it believes will improve the country’s financial health, even when the reforms it recommends are a bitter pill for a government to swallow. But it frequently avoids the politically sensitive issue of corruption, despite its 1997 commitment tackle corruption as essential to fulfilling its mandate.
In a new paper, published on August 2, the IMF acknowledges some of these gaps, recognizing its approach to corruption as “uneven” and often couched in “indirect language.” It promises to be the first step in rethinking how it addresses corruption, rightly recognizing that systemic corruption poses a direct threat to sustainable and inclusive growth, contributes to the neglect of health and education, and exacerbates inequality.
Last month, Human Rights Watch published a report showing how the IMF can blind itself to the corrosive effect of corruption on a country’s financial and social systems. The report examines the nefarious impact of corruption on health and education in Equatorial Guinea – a country that consistently ranks among the most corrupt in the world.