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Changes to Come at World Bank, Chief Says

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Jim Yong Kim plans to announce reforms that will make it easier for the World Bank to have more impact on ending global poverty. The head of the institution plans to discuss those changes with leaders next week when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) member countries engage in a series of meetings.

Reuters reported late Thursday that Kim will have his first chance to make a real impact on the bank at the meetings, scheduled for Oct. 11–14 in Japan. He said that he wants the World Bank to lessen its emphasis on approving loans for development and concentrate more on getting results that make a difference.

He was quoted saying, “We’re not ready to ask for specific changes yet … but if we are going to be really serious about ending poverty earlier than currently projected … there are going to have to be some changes in the way we run the institution.”

Kim went on to say, “Specifically, I am going to ask the governors to work with us so the organization can move to a model where we move more quickly, we can make midcourse corrections more easily and where our board and our governors focus much more on holding us accountable for results on the ground in countries, rather than focusing so much on approval of large loans.”

More specifics would come in April at the next meeting of member countries, he said, but added, “The need for these changes have been clear for a very long time.”

He also pointed out that now was not the time to ask member countries to boost contributions to the World Bank, saying in the report, “At this point, I see really no appetite … it is not the time for us to have a discussion about a capital increase; this is something I don’t think the donor countries are ready for.”

Instead, Kim said the Tokyo meetings would focus on higher food prices and the struggles of farmers all over the world to keep producing in the face of climate change. Drought in the U.S. and in Russia’s Black Sea region have driven yields down and prices higher, though not yet to the levels seen in 2008.

“This is the first drought that scientists clearly attributed to manmade climate change,” Kim said in the report. “Climate change is real, the scientific community is in overwhelming in agreement about the dimensions about manmade climate change and we simply must face it.”

An indication of the new direction he wants the bank to focus on is helping governments to create atmospheres in which businesses can thrive and create jobs.

In the report, he said, “One of the things we are trying to do is define more clearly what is the bottom line for the World Bank, what is it that we really do, and how we are going to organize ourselves so that every day we are working toward that bottom line.” He added, “It seems clear that what we’re best at and what people have the greatest passion for is to work to end poverty. The way we do that is by boosting prosperity.”