Yellen says she trusts IMF, World Bank, Morocco to adjust annual meetings after disaster

By David Lawder

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that she trusts the leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to adjust their Oct. 9-15 annual meetings in Morocco in an appropriate way given the country’s devastating earthquake.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank President Ajay Banga and Moroccan Economy Minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui announced on Monday that the meetings in Marrakech would proceed despite the Sept. 8 earthquake that killed over 2,900 people in the nearby High Atlas Mountains.

In their statement, they said they would make some changes to their meeting plans to adapt content “to the circumstances,” of the disaster.

Asked what changes should be made to the meeting, which is expected to bring over 10,000 people to Marrakech, Yellen told reporters: “I’m leaving it to the heads of the World Bank and the IMF to work with the government of Morocco and figure out what’s appropriate and possible.

“Of course, we need to be respectful of the tragedies that occurred in this country and the need that there is for first responders to be able to attend to people who’ve been impacted by the earthquake,” she added.

Yellen, who controls the dominant U.S. shareholding in both institutions, said after a climate finance event in New York that she would have found it understandable if a decision had been made to hold the meetings elsewhere, and would support any changes that the IMF, World Bank and Morocco deem appropriate.

“This is what the government of Morocco strongly wants. It wants the meetings to go on and feels it’s able to do what’s necessary,” she said. “We want to be helpful for the people in Morocco.”

Georgieva on Friday told Reuters that Morocco’s prime minister told her it would be “quite devastating” for Morocco’s hospitality sector if the meetings were moved to a different location.

(Reporting by David Lawder;Editing by Leslie Adler))