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Redefining The World Bank

By on April 13, 2012

Professor Jeffrey Sachs Strategic Economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Adviser to the Current United Nations Secretary General, last month in his analysis of the World Bank since inception in 1944 shared his thoughts on the operations of one of the Bretton Woods Institutions.

In his article quoted on the Global Economy Watch he asserted that ‘The Mission of the World Bank which was to reduce global poverty and ensure that global development was environmentally sound and socially inclusive. However the World Bank since then has only served as an extension of US Foreign Policy and Commercial Interests’. This may constitute part of the reasons why the World Bank has not fully achieved its aim and objective of becoming a Bank of reconstruction after the Second World War. Little wonder the United States has majority bloc votes for the Presidency of the Bank.

The Challenge of Global Poverty, High Level environmental pollution, unemployment, underdevelopment and political economic crisis still remains at an alarming rate and with the population explosion reaching 7billion there are concerns if there will be enough food to feed the Globe.

On the issue of  community development projects, partnership with governments of member nations on skill acquisition and training, tackling unemployment, Infrastructure, Education, improved healthcare services, and water rehabilitation projects, the World Bank has played vital roles but rating on the impact on the Globe will be 55%.

Like Professor Sachs further stated ‘The World Bank has cut a lot of ribbons on development projects, but has solved far too few global problems’.The Global leaders summit hosted earlier this year by Prime Minister David Cameron on tackling the ‘Famine’ situation in Somalia, should have been engineered by the World Bank.

As we approach the tenure end of Current World Bank President Robert Zoellick in June , there  will be a  lot of intrigues over who takes over Mr Zoellick. But beyond the Lobbying and Politics, there are three things the Next President of the World Bank  should note as a way of redefining the essence of the World Bank.

First is the fact that if the World Bank is going to make impact in the future tackling the global issues that are escalating like poverty, famine, political-economic instability, environmental pollution and degradation it must no longer be excessively dominated by the United States of America and its Interests, because it is a ‘World Bank’ not an ‘American Bank’. If the United States continues to dominate and dictate the policy direction of the World Bank, then it will only exist as a ‘Bank  of American Interest and Settlement’ which is what other  member nations are tired of. The real reconstruction work must start in earnest and this time embrace the ideas, recommendations and involvement of other member nations, if this happens we will see more strategic World Bank policies that have ‘Diverse Interests’ touching the major issues that affect the Globe.

Second  issue is that the World Bank must invest more in Research, Skills Development, Technology and Innovation especially for Developing Nations that   are members of the Bank. The challenges of the Globe are increasing and it will cost-effective research and technological development to tackle them.
The Drought in Ethiopia, Famine in Somalia, Fears and concerns of a looming Global food crisis, Increased Unemployment rate, Pandemic of Deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS, and Environmental Pollutions  can be tackled by improved research ,Sponsorship of Skills and Entepreneurial programmes, technological breakthroughs  in the Medicals, Agriculture,  and Environmental Waste/Protection management which the World Bank should fund effectively.

Third is very crucial and Fundamental to the future and operations of the World Bank. The Funding  efforts  of the World Bank in the past 68 years are to an extent commendable, but to ensure efficiency the World Bank will have to monitor what it is funding. Corruption has over the years seen Projects sponsored by the World Bank in Developing Nations especially diverted  for  other purposes by Government officials and Politicians. These are part of the reasons why some third world countries got themselves into some terrible Debt Crisis that needed forgiveness. Austerity measures which the Governments of the affected Nations adopted as a way of settling their created Political instability and chaos, would have been avoided if the World Bank set up Special Monitoring Teams to ensure that funded projects achieve the aim it was released  for.

Ottoabasi Abasiekong
[email protected]

Public and International Affairs Analyst