World Bank to hasten reforms to give more voice to developing world

April 27th, 2009 - 10:52 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 27 (IANS) The World Bank has agreed to accelerate reforms by its spring meeting in 2010 to give more voice to developing countries as demanded by India and other emerging economies.

Urging donor nations to speed up delivery of pledged funds to help poor countries reeling from recessions rooted in rich nations, it said the economic nosedive is turning into a human and development “calamity,” which already has driven more than 50 million people into extreme poverty this year.

“There is widespread recognition that the world faces an unprecedented economic crisis, poor people could suffer the most and that we must continue to act in real time to prevent a human catastrophe,” World Bank chief Robert Zoellick said.

“The crisis and the need for a strong multilateral response further highlight the relevance of ensuring enhanced voice and participation of developing and transition countries in the governance of the World Bank Group,” a communique issued Sunday at the close of its spring meeting said.

Based on agreement at its last meeting for the Board to develop principles, criteria and proposals for Bank shareholding, the group agreed to accelerate work on the second phase of the reform with a view to reaching agreement by the 2010 Spring Meetings.

“This must involve all shareholders in a transparent, consultative and inclusive process,” the World Bank’s Development committee said.

The World Bank’s policy steering committee also welcomed the Board’s review of internal governance and asked the World Bank Group to continue the work, as part of the comprehensive approach to strengthening its governance and overall effectiveness.

The Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Oct 5 in Istanbul.

Voicing India’s view, Ashok Chawla, secretary, Department of Economic Affairs said: “The changing dynamism of the global economy and the evolving weights of developing economies need to be reflected in the governance structure of the World Bank.”

“This is also necessary if they have to see a role for the Bank in addressing new challenges emerging across the globe, be they climate change, energy or food,” he said.

Noting that “Today, a significant portion of incremental global economic growth is being contributed by developing countries who have the potential to be important drivers of future global economic growth,” Chawla said:

“This fact needs to be recognised in the structure of the World Bank.”

The World Bank has pledged to provide poor countries with more than $55 billion for public works projects left in limbo when the recession hit.

That follows a tripling in lending, to $12 billion, to support health, education and other safety net programmes in poor countries.

The International Monetary Fund is doubling the borrowing limits for 78 of the poorest countries in an effort to meet the needs of developing nations harmed by the downturn.

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