Britain urges U.S. Congress to stop blocking IMF reform

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, walks away from number 11 Downing Street, before delivering his budget to the House of Commons, in central London March 20, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain urged the U.S. Congress on Monday to stop delaying approval of reforms to the International Monetary Fund that would give more power at the institution to emerging economies. Finance minister George Osborne, in a speech in Rio de Janeiro, said it was time for the world's new heavyweight nations such as Brazil to have a bigger say at the IMF. "Let's implement the reforms we have agreed to in our international institutions like the IMF, so that countries like Brazil have the enhanced status and say that your economic strength earns you the right to," Osborne said. "The failure of the U.S. Congress to ratify the agreed IMF reforms is bad for the institution and bad for the international community," he said. "I urge the Administration and Congress to act to pass them now." Osborne is due to attend a twice-yearly meeting of policymakers at the IMF in Washington later this week when the issue of reform is likely to come up again. A bid to get Congress to approve reforms of the IMF was dropped last month amid concerns that it could hold up a bill providing aid to Ukraine. The two proposals were included in the same legislation and Republican opposition to the extra funding included in the IMF plan threatened to torpedo it. The White House has been urging Congress for a year to approve a shift of $63 billion from an IMF crisis fund to its general accounts, as agreed by the U.S. government in 2010. Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, said last month she would continue to work for the reforms. (Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Kevin Liffey)