IMF will own up to mistakes, says Lagarde
Bono among participants at Clinton Global Initiative
IMF chief Christine Lagarde laughs as Bono does an impression of former US president Bill Clinton before Clinton took the stage at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York yesterday. Photograph: Reuters
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, the think-in started by former US president Bill Clinton, Ms Lagarde said one of her aims when she took over at the IMF was for the organisation “to continue to tell the truth”, even though it was “hard to tell the truth to governments”.
“It is hard to tell the truth within the organisation because typically people tend to cover the mistakes. Well, we go out with mistakes,” she said at the opening of the annual meeting in New York.
“We get the blame for it. People curse the organisation, ‘Oh they got it wrong here or there on such country.’ Well I think we have to tell the truth when we get it wrong and we will continue to do so.”
Ms Lagarde was responding to a question from Mr Clinton about how the IMF asked people “to drink castor oil when they were already sick” by pressing debt-ridden countries to adopt fiscal changes.
The IMF managing director was speaking in a panel discussion around the theme of this year’s meeting, “Mobilising for Impact”, where U2 singer Bono was among the participants.
The Clinton Global Initiative has attracted high-profile figures from politics, business and philanthropy, including Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of social media company Facebook.
Among the speakers at the meeting yesterday was Khalida Brohi, a youth activist and founder of Sughar Empowerment Society, who campaigns for the rights of women in Pakistan.
Ms Brohi said that while growing up in the remote area of rural Pakistan she saw cousins being married as young as nine years of age and her aunts being beaten. When she returned home in tears, her father would tell her, “Honey, don’t cry – strategise,” she said, explaining her drive to mobilise women.
The United Nations reported that there were 1,000 deaths being carried out every year under the custom of “honour” killing, said Ms Brohi, but that the actual, unreported number exceeds 3,000.
Ms Sandberg said there was inequality for women everywhere, lamenting the fact that women taking 20 per cent of the seats in the Senate in the last US elections was regarded as “women taking over”. She also questioned how many men are described as “bossy”.
Opening this year’s annual meeting, an emotional Mr Clinton paid tribute to a pregnant nurse, Elif Yavuz, who was killed along with her partner in the Kenya shopping mall attack.
The nurse, who had worked for the Clinton Foundation’s Health Access Initiative, and her partner moved to Nairobi “because they thought it was the safest, best place for her to give birth”, he said.
Before the first panel discussion moderated by the former president, Bono impersonated Mr Clinton on stage during a delay as he searched for his notes backstage.
Mimicking Mr Clinton’s drawl, the singer said the Drop The Debt campaign on which they collaborated helped send 51 million children in Africa to school and that more affordable Aids drugs were being made available “so these talking shops sometimes do come good”, he said, referring to the meeting.