World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings: Wednesday Wrap-up

By Arlen Dabinett, the University of South Australia Business School Scholar. 

Arlen poses for a photo on the Baker-McKenzie rooftop overlooking the White House and the Washington Monument. 

Arlen poses for a photo on the Baker-McKenzie rooftop overlooking the White House and the Washington Monument. 

Wednesday demonstrated the exclusiveness of the Global Voices experience with a schedule of events even the Prime Minister would have envied. Our first meeting at WBHQ was with Jason Allford, the Australian Executive Director to the World Bank Group. Mr Allford explained the objectives of the World Bank and its renewed commitment to investing Bank resources into climate conscious projects. The Bank is particularly concerned with ensuring projects address the diverse implications of climate change on member countries and the difference between ‘adaptation versus mitigation’ policies.  

We then met with Christine Barron, the Alternate Executive Director for Australia at the International Monetary Fund and her Senior Advisor, Gemma Preston. Our discussion centred around current IMF projects and the diversity of priorities and challenges faced by the sixteen countries Australia represents at the IMF. The conversation highlighted the significance Australia plays within the Pacific and our commitment to these nations, particularly smaller island nations. Our neighbouring countries are already being impacted by climate change and their infrastructure is already being challenged. Creating resilient nations is a large focus of the IMF and as forecasts have identified, preparedness in the face of potential natural disaster, would save one-tenth of the cost of post disaster expenditure.

Ms Barron and Ms Preston also stressed the relevance of our respective policy papers, including Artificial Intelligence, Crypto-Currencies, International Taxation and Refugees as being key areas of focus for the IMF. We discussed the impact of mobile banking and increased penetration of internet in the pacific islands which has allowed individuals to access banking services and pay-by-phone. The advent of mobile phone credit accounts has assisted in the free flow of funds between citizens and business however policy and government has struggled to keep up with this advancing technology.

Following our private meetings, we continued on the macro economy theme and attended a seminar on the role of the IMF in domestic and international taxation. The panel included Nicholas Mombrial, the IMF Senior Communications Officer in Fiscal Affairs, Victoria Perry, the IMF Assistant Director in Fiscal Affairs Department and Nicholas Lusiani, the Director of Human Rights in Economic Policy (Centre for Economic and Social Rights). The panel presented their findings which evaluated the distortion and inequities in the international taxation space and the underdeveloped tax administration systems of developing countries. They emphasised how systemic cooperation on these issues can expedite the development and standard of living of developing countries. Technical assistance required to build consistent, robust and attractive tax administrations, can ensure tax revenues from multinational are reinvested in the economy.

Our final seminar for the day was the ‘New Economy Forum Future of Work’ which was moderated by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, the CEO of Gallup, Jim Clifton, Deborah Greenfield, ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy, Sara Horowitz, the Founder of Freelancer’s Union, Jeremy Johnson, the CEO of Andela and James Manyika, the Chair of the McKinsey Global Institute. The discussion touched on automation, work life balance and embracing new ideas of work. A few interesting facts from the panel, we are currently experiencing a stagnation in new start-ups and only 15% of management are committed to developing their younger employee’s skills.

The day ended with our exclusive attendance at the launch of the New York Cyber Task Force report on Building a Defensible Cyberspace, an Atlantic Council joint venture with Columbia University. The session was driven by the expert panel who presented and explained their findings and recommendations. The presentation was beyond the scope of all of our qualifications but extremely relevant to our careers and an insightful educational session on the new emerging cyber security risks.

Fortune favours the prepared mind and day two provided further experience to build our future career tool-kit.