Sunday, 22 May 2011 09:13
Politics & Diplomacy
The IMF is grappling with the public relations wreckage created by its former chief.
By Priya Potapragada
First test: managing a quick succession after the Dominique Strauss-Kahn disaster
Second test: scrutiny of executive perks of an organisation that preaches austerity
As its former managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn moved into a Manhattan apartment last Friday after posting a $1-million bail, the International Monetary Fund has begun grappling with the public relations wreckage he created.
That the beleaguered organisation wants to change the subject, and change it quickly, is evident in the speed with which its executive board moved to outline the process and timeline of selecting the next managing director. It came the day after the French economist and politician resigned in disgrace, after he was arrested by New York police for sexual assault against a New York hotel maid. Candidates may be nominated as early as Monday and a successor to Strauss-Kahn maybe announced by the end of next month.
But questions are being raised on how soon can the IMF overcome the crisis and the long-term impact of the scandal on the institution. For the IMF, which employs 2,400 in 160 countries, the negative publicity is not limited to the sex scandal. In recent days, the lifestyle of Strauss-Kahn and the perks that go with his job have come under scrutiny.
Many have pointed out the irony of an organisation that preaches austerity to developing nations letting its boss to stay in $3,000 a night hotel room, and paying him more than $400,000 a year in salary, plus $75,000 for cost of living adjustments for Washington, DC.
"For now, it is a great story for the New York local media," said Kevin McCauley, an editor with O'Dwyer's magazine, which covers public relations and marketing communications. "It is a classic example of the powerful and the rich beating up the small people. It is fun to see him [in Rikers Island jail]."
Also being examined is the organisation's work culture. "At IMF, Men on Prowl and Women on Guard," declared a New York Times headline on Friday.