In his turn at the presentations organised at CGD, José Antonio Ocampo expressed his view on the Bank, being quite critical of the issues in which, according to him, the institution has not performed well, like country ownership and cooperation with other international organisations. He also expressed the need to change the culture of the Bank in order for it to become a clients-based organisation, and criticised the US for not increasing capital or allowing other countries to do so.
On country ownership he said:
“The World Bank has made the mistake in the past of trying to preach the world a particular model of development. Fortunately that is something that has been changing for some time in a positive direction. Development has to be owned by countries, there is no success without deep ownership of the development process.”
He made a lot of emphasis throughout the debate on the importance to work together with other international organisations like the UN, the ILO and multilateral development banks, and argued that the Bank has not done well in this respect. He said it is possible to “rationalise the work of the Bank by avoiding the duplication of activities with other organisations.”
Ocampo explained that in order to address this it is necessary to change ‘the culture’ at the Bank:
“[it is a] problem of a sense of superiority … the bank staff has to be willing to recognise that they are equals [and] that there are capable people in other international organisations we can work with”.
He said that a change in the Bank’s culture is also needed if the Bank really wants to become a clients-based organisation:
“it has to learn that working at the country level is an improvement than working from Washington … being sent to a poor country to work with the programme is seen as a more difficult job, but, if you want to have a client based organisation, going to the countries should be seen as one of the major jobs that you have in life.”
He then challenged the US reluctance to increase capital or lose shares:
“When the time came for capital increase the current president was too shy … other development Banks got a huge capitalization … the World Bank did not, and this is the reason why the Bank is decreasing its lending significantly, because it cannot have larger portfolio given its capital, so at some point sooner than later the Bank will have to negotiate a capital increase … it is a challenge particularly in the US side … it says it cannot get the money through Congress but also it doesn’t want to loose shares, so that means that we are stuck with a Bank constrained by its major shareholder. The US and the Europeans will have to think if they want to do their own capitalization or allow other economies to do so … or some combination of both. The pressure of losing a share of the Bank will be good incentive to put more capital.”
Although pointing at climate change as a “major challenge for humanity”, and explaining that the Bank has a clear role to play in terms of financing and knowledge, he did not go in detail of what he would like to change of the current approach of the Bank. However, he did make clear that the UN should be the forum for climate change negotiations:
“It [climate change] is a responsibility that the Bank has started to work with, it has to do it in close interaction with other actors because it is not only the responsibility of the Bank: the UN system is the forum for negotiation, and there is now a global climate fund that has been created and is going to be a separate institution and will play an important role in that regard.”
He also said little of what he would like to change of the Bank’s approach to private sector finance. On this area he pointed at two issues of “significant importance”: private investment in low income countries, “especially in non-natural resource intensive sectors”, and “attracting investment by large firms headquartered in emerging economies that can bring a lot of investment into low income countries … also known as South-South investment.” He did not mention however broader discussions on the IFC’s business model through financial intermediaries or on how to improve the IFC’s development impact.
Finally, on the selection processes he commented that it represents a significant progress compared to previous ones. He argued double majority voting should be the rule and that the process should still be more transparent. He welcomed public debates as “one of the biggest innovations” but lamented not all the candidates participated: “I know what Ngozi thinks about the Bank, but don’t know what the US candidate thinks, and nobody knows.”
The organisers of the debate made clear that they sent an invitation to Jim Yong Kim, but unfortunately did not receive a reply from him.