Agustin Carstens, the Mexican central bank chief, was in the Capital to lobby for the top job at IMF. Though he acknowledges that he has a tough task ahead of him, Carstens tells TOI in an interview that he is going to fight till the end. Excerpts:
Q: How is it going for you? A: It's going well. I had a very good meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and I managed to discuss issues related to the international financial community, IMF and my candidacy. It was rewarding to know that India is supportive of a merit-based process and will look at my qualifications.
Q: Are you surprised that the developing countries have failed to rally around you despite talking about seeking an end to European and US domination at IMF and the World Bank? A: It didn't surprise me. It has been a very fast process and the vacancy came up when it was not due. The emerging markets do not have an expedient process like the Europeans. In Europe, they meet every week and discuss issues like these. May be, this is a call to enhance coordination among developing countries. Here, the numbers count by having a candidate supported in a way Lagarde is being supported by Europe. I hope once it's clear that the two main runners will be Lagarde and myself, countries will be able to choose, evaluate and make a decision on merit.
Q: How does India gain by supporting you? A: I will have a far deeper understanding of India's problems and it will help India to have a stronger voice in the international financial community and the IMF. Besides, Mexico faces problems that are similar to India with high commodity prices and capital flows being the two most pressing issues for both of us. I also understand the frustration of emerging markets of not being adequately heard. So, I will be supportive, understanding and responsive to India's needs.
Q: What are US and Japan saying since they can help you gain votes? A: No, still it will add up to 24% while Europe has 34%. But with others also going to support me, I am still in the race. It's a tough battle and I am going to be in Washington on Monday before heading to Beijing and Tokyo.
Q: In case you are not getting enough votes, will you withdraw to ensure that the next IMF chief is chosen by consensus? A: No. Emerging markets have to be serious about this. We should keep trying and put one person to get into a position to get the post. That's why I volunteered. I hope this establishes a precedent and we can take advantage of this in the future.
Q: Will you settle for the first deputy MD's job? A: I will be happier in Mexico.