Given the huge need for lending in development, Jim Yong Kim doesn’t envision the World Bank to be getting out of the business amid the rise of other emerging players, like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
In fact, the World Bank president sees a bigger leadership role for the multilateral financial institution in coordinating all of these financing sources, given its years of experience and the knowledge it has developed over decades, and hopes the bank’s lending portfolio would increase “dramatically” in the next couple of years.
Kim claims a lot of countries still want the World Bank Group in the consortium of lenders, as it “makes others feel more comfortable in investing.”
That says a lot about discussions on the bank’s relevance, which have been going on for years but escalated over a month ago as major European powers signed on with the China-led infrastructure bank. The World Bank’s leadership has been pummelled with questions over the establishment of the institution, which some argue poses a threat to the Washington-based institution and other regional players, notably the Asian Development Bank.
But Kim has repeatedly said he welcomes these new players, looking at them as “allies” rather than “threats” to the bank’s function.
And he is willing to offer the bank’s knowledge on and expertise in multilateralism and development to AIIB, which experts argue don’t seem to be so concerned with issues like developing environmental and social safeguards. Ironically, the World Bank itself has been criticized for its safeguards reform.
“I’ve said to all of the leadership in China ... that we’re willing to do anything we can to help them, because multilateralism is always complex, and among the multilateral things that we do that are complex, development is the most complex,” he told Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar in an exclusive interview at the bank’s just-concluded spring meetings in Washington, D.C.
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