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To Sign Or Not To Sign With the IMF

Autor: Petre Roman 19 Mar 2009 - 00:00

To sign or not to sign an agreement with the IMF is the question of the day in Romania. The history of our past relationship with the IMF does not show a good record, on both sides. In 1999, the IMF stated Romania was on the verge of financial collapse, in spite of no such threat in sight, and did it just to please international lenders.

This way the IMF cast the shadow of doubt on Romania's ability to pay its debts, forcing it to squeeze on its budget to pay the foreign debt due that year. Later on the IMF partially admitted to the mistake and signed an agreement with Romania which proved beneficial with regard to introducing discipline in public expense policies.

Ten years on and in times of global financial crisis, and we are faced yet again with alarmist news regarding Romania eventual defaulting on its foreign debt.

However, the big debt the IMF is talking about belongs to private companies, many of which are subsidiaries of multinational companies operating in Romania.

Therefore, what is the alarm being set off for, and more importantly, why should the Romanian state agree to sign for an IMF agreement for? What is the link between the private debt of mainly multinational companies and the Romanian state?

Well, there is this lense lending institutions look at state through, and private or not, foreign debt is always a matter for the state to be judged by. The problem with getting credits on the international market at lower interest rates lies in the credibility or lack there of the Executive.

The current administration did not prove to act responsibly, as it is mired by internal rife, lack of economic orientation and the often brutal invasion of the Presidency into the matters run by the Executive.

Many tend to believe the recently shown distrust of international financial power houses is unwarranted, as Romania has enough room for jump-starting the economy, when compared with other European nations.

But the lack of coherent governmental action sends jitters throughout the financial community, which help feed the feelings of mistrust.

When a government actions are clear, particularly with regard to public spending, creditors are calm, and even a large foreign debt is paid back via regular methods, provided by the market. Therefore the right answer is: Romania does not need an IMF lending agreement.

However, when a government acts in disarray, the creditors are send in psychological collapse, and the right answer becomes: Romania does need an IMF lending agreement.

More than an economic downturn, Romania is faced with an intellectual downturn.

Still, since the pressure is now for Romania to take loans in order for the state to cover for the private debt of international companies, my answer to the question in the headline is clear: the economic crisis should not be an excuse for plundering Romania's economy and for making the Romanian tax-payer pay for the lack of performance of the multinational companies.

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