IMF, World Bank & IFI Round-Up

The World Bank announced it has uncovered “serious incidents of fraud and corruption” in USD 570 million of health projects it has funded in India, the WSJ reported. An internal review launched in 2006 turned up wrongdoing in five projects dating as far back as 1997, including efforts to curb malaria, tuberculosis and malaria. President Robert Zoellick said the World Bank, together with India’s government, is “committed to getting to the bottom of how these problems occurred.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Jan. 15 that a comprehensive effort is underway to improve how it monitors global financial stability in the wake of the US sub prime crisis. The Fund said in a release that despite efforts by central banks to inject liquidity into global markets, the impact of the crisis is likely to be protracted and most forecasters - including the IMF - have scaled back their estimates of growth for this year.

Growth in Asia’s developing economies is likely to slacken this year because of the U.S. slowdown and higher fuel prices, the President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Monday. Haruhiko Kuroda told the FT the ADB’s next set of forecasts, due to be published in March, would put regional growth - including China but excluding Japan - at “slightly less? than 8 percent. Kuroda said that rising Asian inflation would be ?a really serious issue this year,? which governments would have to confront by eliminating or reducing domestic subsidies, in particular for fuel after oil briefly breached USD 100 a barrel earlier this month.

Most of the world’s leading industrialized nations are facing an economic slowdown while China, Russia and Brazil are expected to see improved or continued growth, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said last week. Data from non-OECD members China and Brazil pointed to ?steady expansion,? according to the Paris-based OECD, which foresaw an ?improved outlook? in Russia and weakening prospects in India.

The World Bank and Conservation International (CI) signed an agreement on Friday for USD 20 million in new funds, provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to protect some of the world’s most unique and threatened areas. These biodiversity hotspots are home to more than half of all terrestrial plants and animals, as well as more than 1.8 billion people who are highly dependent on healthy lands for their livelihoods and well-being. The funds will be made available as grants for projects undertaken by nongovernmental, community, and private sector organizations through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

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