Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan said yesterday that the United States will propose sharp reductions in the "access" of Third World nations to International Monetary Fund resources when IMF policy makers meet here Sunday in advance of the IMF-World Bank annual meeting.
Once IMF quotas--deposits by members--are increased beginning in 1984, the United States will argue that no nation be entitled to borrow more than 102 percent of its quota in any year, with declining percentages after that. The entitlement now is 150 percent a year, with a maximum of 450 percent over three years.
Regan also said that despite pressure from other rich countries to extend the life of the World Bank's soft-loan arm, the International Development Association, "I'm not sure there will be IDA negotiations" for the program to begin next year, known as IDA-7.
"We still haven't gotten IDA-6 [through Congress], and it will be tough to get that $1.095 billion in remaining IDA-6 appropriations through," Regan said. When pressed, he said he didn't mean to suggest that the IDA negotiations scheduled during the sessions next week will not take place.
But the thrust of his comment was that the negotiations would be fruitless. "We'll tell them to be cautious about what to expect from us," Regan said. The administration position is that any future IDA program should be limited to $750 million a year, down about 25 percent from recent American commitments.
Since 102 percent of the enlarged IMF quota is almost exactly equal, in dollar terms, to 150 percent of an average old one, this part of the U.S. proposal, designed to conserve the IMF's total funds, was not unexpected. But Regan said the United States wants the "access" reduced to 85 percent in 1985; to 70 percent in 1986, and to 55 percent in 1987.
Against the present 450 percent maximum borrowing allowance, the new U.S. proposals would set limits of 305 percent beginning next year; 215 percent in 1985; 210 percent in 1986; and only 165 percent beginning in 1987.
But Regan said that existing programs, such as the IMF commitments to Mexico and Brazil, would not be affected, and that in absolute terms, most nations would be able to borrow more than they did prior to December 1980, when the 150 percent allowance was begun.
Treasury officials also said they would propose complicated new "cumulative borrowing limits," as follows: starting in 1984, 407 percent; in 1985, 325 percent; 245 percent in 1986; and 165 percent in 1987. This means that if a country hasn't paid back some outstanding IMF loan, those figures would be used as a ceiling to reduce what their annual "access" percentages otherwise would have been.
Although there would be exceptions made for difficult cases, Regan admitted that "I am sure the proposal will be shot at." He will seek endorsement of the proposal today at a meeting of the Group of Ten industrial nations, following a dinner discussion last night among the Group of Five finance ministers (from France, West Germany, Great Britain, Japan and the United States).
There is strong opposition within the IMF to the U.S. proposal. A number of nations have suggested that a compromise be struck between the 102 percent and 150 percent figure, around 120 percent.
Regan gave a grim evaluation both of the IMF's present liquidity (cash) position, calling it "dangerous," and of prospects for passage of the $8.4 billion IMF money bill now caught in a congressional stalemate. He indicated that he did not look for passage of the bill until the end of the session, around Thanksgiving.
"But there's no alternative," he added. "Rational men will have to come to a rational solution of this matter--we just can't let it hang out there."
Regan strongly endorsed the decision by IMF Managing Director Jacques de Larosiere to husband the agency's dwindling resources by halting new negotiations on major loans. Regan noted that three important potential IMF loans--to Nigeria, Portugal, and Haiti--could be affected if de Larosiere's moratorium must be kept in effect for a substantial period of time.