Below is a guest post by María José Romero of the Latin American network of NGOs Latindadd, with its secretariat in Lima, Peru.
In a letter sent on April 5 to World Bank Executive Directors representing Latin American countries, Latin American NGOs Fundar, DAR and Latindadd asked about the criteria for the selection of the new President of the institution. José Antonio Ocampo, the Colombian candidate to lead the World Bank has already met 18 of the 25 Bank’s Executive Directors and on Tuesday 10 April (today) the Board of Executive Directors as a whole will interview him.
In an ideal world each and every Latin American country should support Ocampo’s candidacy. As Kevin Gallagher says, “if the decision is finally based on merit, as it should be, Ocampo will win: he is far and away better than any on the list of credible names, including President Barack Obama’s nominee, Jim Yong Kim.”
According to Professor Griffith –Jones, Ocampo “provides the rare combination of an experienced and successful policy-maker at the highest level (he was Minister of three portfolios in Colombia, finance, agriculture and planning), an outstanding international civil servant again at the highest level, including as Under Secretary General at the United Nations, as well as Head of the UN Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and a leading academic researcher in key issues relating to development and macro-economic policy.”
There is also a strong debate on the expectations regarding the role of the new president to guide the institution into a path of structural reforms not only in terms of governance but also the fundamental changes on the vision of a sustainable development. In this field Ocampo has also something to offer, as he is one of the leading academic economists in the field of development.
In support of Ocampo’s candidacy, three letters were sent to the Bank’s Board of Directors highlighting Ocampo’s credentials. As a whole more than 300 reknowned academic economists and researchers from Latin America, Colombia and across the world, together with members of the Colombian business community and the civil society, former Central Bank governors, and the heads of international agencies, have endorsed his candidacy for President of the World Bank.
However, Ocampo’s own government is not fully supportive. Colombia’s finance minister said Ocampo’s bid was not “politically feasible” because Bogotá is pushing a candidate to head the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Ocampo is aware of the difficulties of the fight, “the US is putting all the pressure. The success will depend on the will of developing countries and emerging markets to keep an unified voice and that most of European countries do not follow the US. By now, I think that latter is more likely than the former.”
We are waiting for the answers from our representatives in the Board. For most of us the time has come to open up the international financial institutions to a new development thinking. It is also time for developing countries to demonstrate their capacity to talk with a unique voice to finally break the status quo.