US gives up WB president hire power

Washington, October 14:

The US is to lose its power to appoint the president of the World Bank (WB) after the UK’s development secretary, Douglas Alexander, brokered a deal to throw open the post to candidates from any country.

Backed by European governments and developing countries, Alexander overcame resistance from the US and Japan to secure a reform he described last nig-ht as ‘a significant step forward’. Washington has had the right to hand-pick the president of the World Bank since the institution was founded after the second world war, with Europe choosing the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Alexander said, “The agreement provides the opportunity for candidates to be nominated regardless of nationality. It will ensure that the best-qualified candidate is selected.” Developing countries have grown increasingly frustrated at the stranglehold of rich nations on the two Washington-based multilateral bodies, with pressure for change accelerating after the controversial presidency of Paul Wolfowitz, who was forced to step down after a scandal involving his partner’s promotion.

Alexander said that more changes were needed, “It is a significant step forward, albeit on a much longer journey.”

The bank’s development committee yesterday was dominated by concerns that poor states wo-uld fall victim to the global financial crisis. It backed proposals that will give countries from sub-Saharan Africa a third seat on its 25-strong governing board.

The bank’s president, Robert Zoellick, urged rich countries not to forget their pledges of financial support to the developing world.