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Statement by Hans Joerg Schelling, Minister of Finance, Austria

On behalf of Austria, Belarus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Republic of Kosovo, Slovak Republic,
Slovenia, Turkey, at the 30th Meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee
inWashington DC, October 11, 2014
Global Crisis
Austria did not suffer too badly from the global economic and financial crisis, because they had
no large domestic balance of payments problems before the crisis began. The main impact of the crisis
was on the internationally active banking system and public debt. Before the crisis, Austrian banks had
expanded rapidly in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. However, this expansion and financial
growth later slowed down and the banks then needed government financial support. Austria's economy
slowed down in 2012 and 2013, but is now recovering well. GDP is currently expected to grow at 1.5%
in 2014 and 1.7% in 2015, which are much greater growth rates than the 0.3% GDP growth in 2013
so, GDP is accelerating. Austria has an excellent job market, too, with the lowest unemployment rate in
the European Union.
Statement to the IMF
The countries of our Constituency are concerned that the excellent progress we have been
making in our rising living standards and prosperity as well as peace are in danger. We have a
vital interest in the stability of Ukraine/Russia and the Middle East. Those conflicts have increased
uncertainty and threaten to harm everyone's economic recovery. We therefore see the IMF's continued
involvement in Ukraine as being very important to help stabilize and calm the region. The IMFs work
in the Middle East also needs to continue, focusing on creating more jobs and encouraging more
inclusion of different peoples in the economy. We welcome the IMF's decisive action in the countries
affected most by the outbreak of the Ebola virus, which threatens to wreck progress in the economic
development of those countries. We call on the IMF to work closely together with the World Bank and
other international institutions to support the countries affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Middle
East, in order to prevent negative effects on the economies in the region and spill-overs to the global
We believe the economic reforms and policy changes towards more fiscal tightening which the
IMF and other international institutions promote in the struggling countries will help to restore higher
and sustainable economic growth for all countries.
Borrowing costs (such as interest rates on loans) are at record lows, which creates the illusion
that the global economy is stronger than it is in reality - and this is not good. Meanwhile, public debt
ratios (the comparison of how much debt a country has and how big its economy is), are still too high
in many countries. We believe these two facts are problematic, and mean that we need to focus on
consolidation. However, we recognize that consolidation and fiscal tightening in very big economies
such as the US could cause problems for the global economy.
We think the IMF is doing a really good job advising countries' economic policies, and that the
IMF's work helps all member countries to have strong international economic partnerships and stability.
We encourage the IMF to be even more prominent in advising bilateral negotiations, as well as
surveilling. We also appreciate the IMFs central role in restructuring countries' external debt.
However, this work is still not sufficient to making debt payments of countries more timely, and
we believe the IMF should work even more on restructuring loans. We are not happy that so much
disagreement among IMF member countries is delaying the IMF's work. We need member countries to
agree and ratify new quotas and reforms so that the IMF can continue doing its great policy work.
We welcome the increase of bilateral loan agreements. This will take some of the pressure off
of the IMF, which is over-extended and does not have enough resources for all of its work.