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Antoinette Sayeh rejoins IMF as deputy Managing Director

By Antony Drugeon
Posted on Monday, 2 March 2020 09:27

Antoinette Sayeh
Antoinette Sayeh, en 2009 © IMF Staff Photo/Robert Giroux (CC) Par Antony Drugeon

Antoinette Sayeh, former Liberian Finance Minister (2006–2008), has been appointed Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

She will assist the Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva who, since last December, has been the Managing Director of the institution.

From 16 March, Antoinette Sayeh, 62, given the green light by the IMF Executive Board, will join the team of Deputy Managing Directors who support Georgieva in her missions at the head of the IMF.

Georgieva welcomed the appointment of Sayeh and praised her former eight-year tenure as head of the IMF’s Africa Department (2008-2016).

As head of the Africa Department, Sayeh led a “profound transformation of the relationship between the IMF and our African members,” Georgieva said. She was the first woman to head the department.

During her tenure, she had to deal with a dysfunctional Bank of Central African States (BEAC), manage the crisis between the IMF and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), and moved to suspend all IMF assistance to Mozambique, which was revealed to have hidden a billion dollars in debt.

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Sayeh was also on the front line in responding to the economic consequences of the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and lead a crusade against energy and agricultural subsidies.

Back to the IMF

The former Liberian Finance Minister was for four years a visiting researcher at the International Development Research Centre in Canada, which is associated with World Bank.

Concerned of the dangers of mass unemployment in Africa, Sayeh is fully aware of the relationship between budgetary policies and efforts to fight poverty through the IMF.

One foot in Liberia, one in Washington

She is familiar with the back and forth between Liberian public institutions and multilateral institutions: after starting her career as a civil servant in Liberia’s Ministries of Finance and Planning, she then spent 17 years in various senior positions at the World Bank.

Now as close to the IMF summit as an African can be (the institution’s leadership is usually a European), Antoinette Sayeh, who holds a BA in economics and a PhD in international economic relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University in the USA, follows in the footsteps of Alassane Ouattara, the organization’s Managing Director from 1994 to 1999.

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