Thursday, May 10, 2007

The World Bank deserves more than a banal political row

The Ethics Committee proposed a solution to Mr. Wolfowitz’ “conflict of interest” that could have the poverty fighting World Bank paying out US$1.950.000 over the ten years of what could be his presidency (US$ 130.000 plus 50% benefits per year), while receiving absolutely no services at all. No matter how delicately you phrase it as a secondment, this sure must be a crazy and an unethical proposal. How come they did not just help her (or Wolfowitz) find another job for which the Bank did not have to pay? Should that have been so difficult?

Mr. Wolfowitz, who as President should know that something is not right just because an Ethics Committee proposes it; then went on influencing so as to raise the potential cost of this proposal for the Bank to US$2.700.000. For this Wolfowitz should resign; and most seem quite clear about that.

It is hard though for me to understand why there has been so little discussion about the Ethics Committee’s initial proposal. Although I was an Executive Director at the World Bank, 2002-2004, I came there from the private sector, and so I might not possess sufficient intimate knowledge of all the nuances of diplomatic affairs… (which could perhaps just be lucky me).

I sincerely believe that the overwhelmingly good staff, management, board members and presidents, present or past of the World Bank, as well as a world that needs a respected multilateral institution where global challenges can be discussed, they all deserve that this affair is handled correctly, on the basis of what is right or wrong, and not just as a banal political row, of a for or against Wolfowitz.