2nd LD Writethru: Bulgaria's Georgieva approved as new IMF managing director

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- The executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday approved the nomination of Bulgaria's Kristalina Georgieva, chief executive officer of the World Bank, to be the IMF managing director for a five-year term starting on Oct. 1.

Noting that it's a "huge honor" for her to have been selected as the next managing director, Georgieva told reporters at the IMF headquarters Wednesday afternoon that she steps into the role as a "firm believer" in the mandate of the global lender.

The new IMF chief said she assumes her position fully aware of the challenges. "Global economic growth continues to disappoint. Trade tensions persist and debt burdens are rising in many countries," she said, noting that "warning signs are flashing."

"My immediate priority for the IMF is to help members minimize the risk of crisis and be ready to cope with downturns should they occur," Georgieva said. "And yet we should not lose sight of the longer term objective to build stronger economies and improve people's lives on the foundation of sound monetary, fiscal and structural policies."

She added that it also means dealing with long-term challenges such as inequalities, climate risks and rapid technological change.

"My goal is to strengthen the fund by ensuring that it is well resourced, well-governed, always even handed, forward looking and attentive to the needs of all our members, big and small, rich and poor," said the new IMF managing director.

Georgieva, selected by the European Union to lead the IMF, has been the only nominee for the position. She served on the European Commission starting in 2010, and has been CEO of the World Bank since January 2017. She was the interim president for the World Bank from February to April this year.

Georgieva, who succeeds France's Christine Lagarde, is the first person from an emerging market economy to lead the IMF since its inception in 1944, the executive board said in a statement.

"Congratulations to my friend Kristalina Georgieva on her selection as the new managing director of the IMF. Wishing you every success in leading this great institution," Lagarde said on Twitter shortly after the executive board's announcement.

Georgieva, meanwhile, said in her brief speech that she is "very fortunate" to have had Lagarde as her predecessor. "Her vision, her leadership have contributed so much to the success of the fund," said Georgieva.

In July, Lagarde, the first female leader of the IMF, announced her resignation from Sept. 12 shortly after she was nominated for the presidency of the European Central Bank (ECB), triggering a selection process for the global lender's next managing director.

In early August, Georgieva narrowly defeated former Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem and emerged as EU's choice to lead the IMF, after EU countries failed to reach a consensus on a single candidate.

Earlier this month, the IMF approved the removal of the age limit for the position of managing director, paving the way for 66-year-old Georgieva to head the multilateral lender. Previously, the IMF's bylaws had prohibited the appointment of a candidate aged 65 or over as managing director and had also prohibited the managing director from serving past his/her 70th birthday.

The position of IMF chief has always been held by Europeans while the head of the World Bank has traditionally been American, an informal arrangement that has stayed in place for over seven decades. Enditem

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