IMF executive board recommends scrapping age limit for Georgieva

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva (R) sitting next to moderator Lisberth Pilegaard, speaks during a panel at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 7 March 2018. [Sakvatore di Nolfi/EPA/EFE]

The International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday (21 August)  its executive board recommended the removal of the age limit for its managing director, a move needed for European nominee Kristalina Georgieva to be approved for the job.

The IMF said its 24-member executive board recommended that the change be approved by the IMF board of governors, which includes representatives from all 189 member countries. It would bring the IMF in line with the World Bank Group, which has no leadership age limit.

IMF rules currently require that managing directors be under 65 at the time they take office and cannot serve past their 70th birthdays. Georgieva, who has taken a leave of absence as the World Bank’s chief executive officer, turned 66 last week.

Georgieva, a former European Commission Vice President, was nominated by European Union countries in early August as a compromise candidate after deep disagreements over other candidates and multiple rounds of voting.

Europe splits over IMF leadership

Divisions between the EU’s geographical blocs are complicating the process of picking a European candidate to lead the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as the EU wants to agree on a nominee as soon as possible to retain the Fund’s chair.

Britain had abstained from the contentious EU nomination vote and some media have reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeking US backing for former British Finance Minister George Osborne to lead the IMF. Johnson and US President Donald Trump will both attend a G7 summit in France this weekend.

The IMF has been run by a European since its founding at the end of World War Two. Departing Managing Director Christine Lagarde, a former French finance minister, is due to take over as European Central Bank governor in November.

No other candidates have so far been nominated to challenge Georgieva, who is from Bulgaria and has held senior European Commission posts in addition to the World Bank’s No. 2 job since January 2017. The IMF nomination period will stay open through 6 September.

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