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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Promotes IMF, World Bank Worth




WASHINGTON -- Facing a hostile Congress, the U.S. administration on Tuesday struggled to defend its support for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as vital for American prosperity and global stability.


Addressing the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said the world would have been worse off during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-99 had it not been for the two Washington-based lending agencies.


"These institutions help promote a more stable world," he said. "They can help to promote vital humanitarian objectives. And, let there be no doubt, they promote changes that are central to our nation's economic and commercial future."


Many in Congress are vehemently opposed to the IMF, arguing that its policies have exacerbated crises, or that they neglect workers' rights. The World Bank has also come in for congressional criticism, albeit somewhat more muted.


In response, the administration has stepped up efforts to promote reforms and greater transparency at the bodies.


But Senator Jesse Helms, the panel's powerful chairman, would have none of it. "The IMF, as it now functions, is a destructive institution, which usually does more harm than good to countries it is purporting to help," he said. "There is growing sentiment that perhaps the time has come to simply abolish the IMF."