(See GMEET <GO> for more on the Group of 20 and IMF meetings.)
Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The World Bank’s 188 member countries endorsed a strategy that President Jim Yong Kim says should enable the lender to better respond to clients’ needs and reduce poverty while cutting costs.
“For the first time in the history of our organization, we have a strategy that leverages the strengths of our entire organization,” Kim told reporters in Washington yesterday. “We will make decisions that allow us to be more selective and to choose more transformative projects that help countries and regions reach their priorities.”
The strategy calls for more investment in countries deemed “fragile” because they are emerging from conflicts or are still mired in one, Kim said. The bank will also focus on mitigating climate change and improving health and education, especially for women.
Kim, who took over the bank’s helm in July 2012, has pledged to transform an institution he said has grown too fragmented, cautious and self-absorbed to accomplish its mission. The backing of his shareholders now gives him leeway to change the lender’s financial model and to cut costs, after he shook up management and overhauled the bank’s structure.
Kim said in an Oct. 10 interview that he will reduce the lender’s annual budget by $400 million over three years, including through job cuts.
“For too long, the World Bank itself has not followed its own advice,” Kim told finance officials in Washington on Oct. 11. “We have often postponed tough choices. That’s changing. We are taking our own medicine.”
The World Bank was established after World War II to rebuild Europe and is now focused on assisting developing countries. Under Kim, it is now pursuing two goals: lowering the share of people living on less than $1.25 a day to 3 percent in 2030 -- from 21 percent in 2010 -- and boosting the income of the poorest 40 percent of the world’s population.
“While we believe the strategy is an important milestone and we welcome Jim Kim’s vision and commitment, we remain dismayed that the members of the World Bank did not push for more meaningful action on inequality,” Nicolas Mombrial, who heads the Washington office of charity group Oxfam, said in an e-mail yesterday.
Kim, a doctor by training who previously was president of Dartmouth College, said yesterday the bank will aim to cut by a third over two years the average time between the conception and the delivery of a loan.
That’s welcome, Ivory Coast Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan told reporters.
“It’s brave on their part to look things in the eye,” he said yesterday, adding that borrowing from the lender can be a “weighty” process at times.
--Editors: Gail DeGeorge, Paul Badertscher