Interview with an MP

with Pana Pappas Merchant

The Parliamentary Network Secretariat had a chance to sit down with Honourable Pana Pappas Merchant from Canada. She was re-elected to the Board of PN as an established Senator with robust experiences in international development. We were able to interview her, posing questions about what she sees for the Network in the future, as well being able to get more personal with the Senator from Canada.

Q: How does your constituency see the impact of the World Bank and IMF? 
A: Had they an opinion at all about the WB or IMF, the people of Canada, and I suspect the vast majority of the people in all donor nations, would wonder about the cost and be concerned about whether as taxpayers they were getting value for their money. The IMF and WB are seen as part of bail-outs and aid. The importance of smoothing world economic problems is overlooked.

Q: Which areas of focus are of importance to you and your constituents? How do you see yourself making a difference regarding these foci?
A: WB and IMF are often castigated and rarely praised. My sense is their work is extremely positive for the world and particularly the developing world. However, organizations functioning in private are the subject of suspicion simply due to their determination about privacy. These institutions cannot function under the full glare of public examination. They must be adroit and sometimes judgmental, acting swiftly with a narrow group of decision makers because broad inquiry, although in some sense appropriate, causes delay. How do we square the fact that this is publicly spent money, coming from donor nations, where our taxpayers are often as dissatisfied with the IMF and WB as the recipient nations, who in turn often feel they have been placed under the thumb of these large institutions? We ought to be examining the kind of private oversight that exists currently with oversight agencies or in some countries exists with some of their military spending, and part of my concern is that there is no meaningful oversight, even in private, of the WB or the IMF.

Q: When did you become a Member of the Parliamentary Network and what were the factors that led you to take a leadership position as a Board Member? 
A: My interest in the PN began three years ago and is all the more focussed today on finding viable avenues for parliamentary examination of the way the IMF and WB function. I find it amazing that institutions of such size with such great significance for the world, function largely without any kind of oversight. The PN needs to continue to enlarge the examination of how the IMF and WB work.

Q: How will the Parliamentary Network make a substantial impact in international development during the next two years?
A: We can help the WB and IMF to see areas of assistance that may be overlooked. Elected officials, particularly in parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, but also developing economies in the Americas, and the verges of Europe will benefit from our help in putting their positions forward.

Q: What is the Network’s importance to you and your fellow colleagues around the world?
A: All of us often overlook the importance of change because change is incremental. The impact of changing world economic realities has been enormous. International money flows, the power of mega corporations, and the diminished actual power of national government are factors which become increasingly impactful moving further into the 21st Century, rendering the growing importance of the IMF and WB every minute. As money and nation comptrollers, the IMF and WB continue to accomplish a great deal for the good of humanity. These two institutions are also the subject of growing opprobrium. Is the unease of recipient countries anger, at having to take the medicine the mismanagement of their economies requires, or are there justifiable criticisms in the abrupt and seemingly judgmental approaches taken by the WB and IMF?

Q: What are some of your hobbies? 
A: Curiously in all of the interviews that I have done no one has ever asked me about my hobbies.
My husband and I travel extensively and even before becoming a member of the Canadian Senate in 2002, we had already travelled to more than 100 countries. I have a keen interest in world issues. Part of my interest in the PN stems from having travelled to so many developing countries and have seen the need for cooperation between wealthy nations and developing nations.
A beautiful white Siberian Husky controls a not insignificant part of my life when in Regina.
I go to the gym when I can but that is more about good health than good fun, although I enjoy it. 

Founded in 2000, the Parliamentary Network is an independent, non-governmental organization that provides a platform for Parliamentarians from over 140 countries to advocate for increased accountability and transparency in development cooperation. Jeremy Lefroy is the current Chair of the Parliamentary Network.

 

The Network – via its international secretariat, regional chapters and country chapters – reaches over 1000 Parliamentarians in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. It strives to increase transparency and accountability in the development cooperation process by fostering the oversight role of parliaments and civil society. The Network has a specific focus on multilateral aid and a sub-focus on the work and modus operandi of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the world’s largest multilateral funders.

 

It provides a platform for MPs and civil society to hold to account their own governments, as well as International Financial Institutions (IFIs), for development outcomes.

Membership is free of charge and open to elected parliamentarians who currently hold a mandate. As a member, you will receive The Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s policy materials, including the quarterly Network Review publication and the Parliamentarians and Development series.

You will also be eligible to attend the Annual Conference and participate in discussions with senior World Bank and IMF leadership. You can also be invited to take part in the Parliamentarians in the Field country visit programme.
In addition, the The Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund often invites partner organizations to join its activities.
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