World Bank going into reform mode

ISTANBUL: World Bank is pursuing an ambitious programme of reform to enable itself to become more efficient

and effective while also gaining more legitimacy among the developing countries that it serves, World Bank Group President Robert B Zoellick said.

In a speech at the start of the annual meeting of World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Istanbul, Turkey, Zoellick said World Bank’s reforms would focus on improving development effectiveness, promoting accountability and good governance, and continuing to increase cost efficiency.

“To serve the changing global economy, the world needs agile, nimble, competent and accountable institutions,” Zoellick told the meeting of the Board of Governors of the World Bank Group. “The World Bank Group will improve its legitimacy, efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability and further expand its cooperation with the UN, the IMF, other multilateral development banks, donors, civil society and foundations which have become increasingly important development actors.”

Zoellick noted that when the World Bank was established in 1944, the world was different from today. The institution was formed by 44 countries whereas its membership today stands at 186. The developing countries of today were mostly still colonies then. This system has long passed off and the political economy of the 21st century demands a changed order that reflects the growing role of developing countries. They are now a source of potential economic growth that could lead to

a more balanced world economy.

“If developing countries are part of the solution, they must also be part of the conversation. The international system needs a World Bank Group that represents the international economic realities of the 21st Century, recognizes the role and responsibility of growing stakeholders, and provides a larger voice for Africa,” Zoellick said.

World Bank’s shareholders backed reforms to give developing countries 47 percent of voting shares in it. Zoellick said shareholders should go beyond this for a 50 per cent share for developing countries.

Zoellick said. “The old international economic order was struggling to keep up with change before the crisis. Today’s upheaval has revealed stark gaps and compelling needs. It is time we caught up and moved ahead.”