Thursday, April 19, 2007

The World Bank, though in a hole, needs to dig deeper.

As a former Executive Director of the World Bank it is with much sadness that I have followed the Wolfowitz affair. It is clear that he should not have played a role in deciding the terms on which his girlfriend was seconded to the US state department and that he should now leave the Bank.

Having said that, I also find it important to question the appropriateness of the primary idea, put forward it seems by the Ethics Committee, since it does not seem to be correct either that the World Bank should be seconding anyone anywhere, even on reasonable and non interfered terms, as a tool to solve this type of conflict of interests, so as to allow someone to have his cake and eat it too.

In contrast while an Executive Director, we had to spend millions of dollars of the Board’s time just in order to debate a “measly” forty thousand dollar a year increase for the then World Bank president James Wolfensohn, just so that he would be able to earn as much as his counterpart in the IMF.

Now, after so much procrastination, by all parties, the only real solution for the World Bank, with or without Wolfowitz, lies in appointing a committee of true outsiders to dig deep and review all the World Bank’s current work related policies. The World Bank, when compared to other similar institutions, is very clean but of course, after 64 years of accumulating problem solving compromises, it should be time for a good scrubbing.

The world needs the World Bank to come out of all this smelling like roses, and the staff also deserve it.