Against a backdrop of stubbornly high interest rates and ballooning national debts worldwide, a senior International Monetary Fund official warned that the task of fiscal reform will only grow "tougher" for finance ministers around the globe.

For Japan, which faces the dual challenge of a declining population and high government debt-to-gross domestic product ratio, Vitor Gaspar, director of the IMF's Fiscal Affairs Department, advised that the introduction of a "risk-based medium-term fiscal framework" be made top priority.

Gaspar, former Portuguese finance minister, sat down for an interview with Jiji Press on Monday, on the sidelines of the ongoing IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings.