“the World Bank is not a health charity”

A very convincing argument in support of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as President of the World Bank, at least me-thinks, by Maha Atal in Forbes Magazine;

“By far the most important reason to appoint Okonjo-Iweala is that she has experience on both sides of the table in the international lending negotiations that are the bread and butter of the Bank’s work. As an economist who rose to be the Bank’s Managing Director, she oversaw its lending from 2007 to 2011, helping shepherd it through the global financial crisis. As Nigeria’s finance minister between 2003 and 2006, she represented her government in debt relief negotiations with Paris Club donors, succeeding in reducing the country’s debt burden from $30 billion t0 $12 billion. That remains the only time the Paris Club has allowed a debtor nation to buy back its debt below par.

What’s critical about the experience is that Okonjo-Iweala understood what it meant to face a debt burden that was so beyond repayment as to be punitive, and she worked to have it reduced. But she also understood that the single case of Nigeria didn’t negate the merits of international development lending and she went back to the Bank to provide critical funding to other nations.”

8 thoughts on ““the World Bank is not a health charity”

  1. Ngozi’s position is known. She in earlier media interviews had listed things she felt needed to be done to fix the world bank and get it going again. I am sure if she is given the position, things will change for good for the bank. However, my fear for the new leadership of the world bank is that the bank seem to have taken off at inception as an instrument of North to control the South. That being the case, its inherited policy problems may have contributed to bank’s poor image among developing nations and the rot in the bank for which some persons were sacked recently. So if the World Bank’s new president is expected to perform creditably well, he/she should be given a free hand to change everything requiring to be changed in the institution including policies that seem to make the World Bank an American or developed world’s bank thus making it seem like a horror movie whose purpose, rightly or wrongly percieved, is to harvest blood, incite fear and increase the misery of its victims who are largely developing countries..

  2. Ngozi needs to decide whether she’s running as the agent of change, for which her record as a manager and as Managing Director is very mixed, or as the agent of the status quo. In either case, people have been too polite to ask her why, if so much was broken, she didn’t fix it. The Bank’s impressive financial response to MICs during the Financial Crisis was as a result of its prudent capital management, largely not her doing, and as you point out, the Bank’s evaluators said that the thematic content–which was what she oversaw as Managing Director–was not tailored to the countries’ very different needs.

    It might also be that her complaint about the Bank’s slow response to calls for expertise and advice is due to the Matrix System, which she presided over and failed to fix when she was Managing Director, and the Bank’s increasing reliance on consultants (and retirees) because of the introduction of very short term contracts, also done under her watch.

  3. “As an economist who rose to be the Bank’s Managing Director, she oversaw its lending from 2007 to 2011, helping shepherd it through the global financial crisis.” In fact this is not a very good record to be running on. In February the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group put out a report assessing the Bank’s record during the crisis – pretty weak is about the only way to sum it up. More here: http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/art-569954. And some of the quotes:

    “rather than being targeted toward most-affected countries”, followed “pre-crisis lending patterns and had a low correlation with the severity of the crisis impact”,

    “negligible difference in thematic content between ‘crisis’ and ‘non-crisis’ financial sector crisis lending.” This resulted in lending going to countries “suffering only a moderate degree of economic and financial stress”

    And concludes: “the Bank’s present instruments may not be well adapted to the nature of crisis lending”.

    That is a pretty poor record to run on…

  4. The world Bank is not a learning institution…the era of a round peg in a square hole is gone.Kim should be sent to the WHO.Ngozi is the most experienced!Let her have it

  5. How can a medical doctor run a world banking institution.. It makes no sense at all… Give me a break

  6. Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala derserves the position for her rich experience garnered working with the organisation for 27 years. Her African background also stands as an advantage as the bank is known to do business much with the developing countries. Her place in Nigeria’s government twice which helped her negotiate debt relief for the country is remarkable. Being a woman, Okonjo-Iweala stands to revive the fast fading credibility of the bank even among developing countries. She knows the problems of the bank and what to do to tackle it head-on.

  7. VOICE OF REASON Communication Limited! How long will you continue to push your unreasonable argument?

  8. Indeed, the Bank is not a health charity.

    To appreciate Jim Kim’s experience in a broader context, Laurie Garrett looks at the bigger picture http://www.lauriegarrett.com/index.php/en/blog/3159/#&panel1-1 noting that

    “I have always found Jim Kim an enthusiastic, energetic man who freely mixes academia/advocacy/data/passion in a mélange that can be both inspiring and intimidating. If you agree with him, Kim sweeps you up with his intelligence and passion. If you disagree, the same attributes can be off-putting. In either case, it is clear that Jim Kim is a far cry from being a stolid banker, austere university president, or cautious physician.”

    She concludes “Kim’s strength is not just informed by his work with communities in the developing world, but also in being effective while leading some highly politicized and bureaucratic institutions, like Dartmouth College and the World Health Organization. The stuff you have to deal with running an Ivy League university is in some ways a lot more excellent preparation than anyone would like to admit for running an international institution.” Kim is also a “seriously nice man.”

    An attribute that the Bank’s board needs to be sure not to overlook.

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