Thursday, April 05, 2007

Let us not waste this opportunity to make a very significant reform at the World Bank

On the web of World Bank (WB) we can read an interview with Suzanne Rich Folsom, the Director of the World Bank's Department of Institutional Integrity (INT), on the theme of fraud and corruption. When questioned “What sanctions are imposed on those misusing WB’s funds?, she answers “when we find that a supplier has engaged in corruption in a project, we take actions to debar them – which means to make sure they can’t get any more contracts for a while. We also publicly debar – we list their names on our website. ‘Naming and shaming’ is a huge deterrent.” This sounds of course reasonable, especially considering that INT is not a court that could send anyone to jail.

Unfortunately, immediately thereafter, Folsom also has to say the following: “We’re often asked why we don’t publicly name WB staffs that are terminated for fraud and corruption as well. The WB’s rules don’t allow such disclosures…”, and this, no matter how you look at it, is of course something completely unacceptable and represents a truly ugly wart on the public face of what in so many respects is the best managed of all our international organizations.

Perhaps these days, when the World Bank’s President’s and a former staff names are publicly mentioned everywhere as having done something not correct, this could be the best opportunity ever for getting rid of whatever crazy disclosure rule stops the World Bank from living as it preaches,