IMF, World Bank & IFI Round-Up

The World Bank Group increased support to the developing world by USD 3.9 billion – 11 percent – over 2007 levels as global challenges mounted in 2008. Efforts included spearheading a drive to deliver funds rapidly to nations hit by food price shocks, replenishing the fund for the world’s poorest countries, and stepping up efforts to stimulate job growth and foreign direct investment during the Bank’s 2008 fiscal year, which ended June 30. “In a year that saw rising food and fuel prices become the harsh new reality, the USD 38.2 billion provided by the World Bank Group to developing countries helps create development solutions so people can have the opportunity and means to improve their lives,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has sharply revised up its forecast for inflation across developing Asia in 2008 and 2009, warning that rising prices may have got out of control in some countries. That is likely to hurt growth in the region, which the ADB now expects to be slower this year and next year than it had anticipated in April. In its Asian Development Outlook 2008 Update released Sept. 16, the Manila-based supranational said that inflation in its 44 developing Asia member countries is likely to average 7.8 percent this year and 6.0 percent in 2009. …Rising prices and the weakness in the major global economies will also weigh on the developing Asian economy, which the ADB now expects to expand by 7.5 percent this year…and to grow 7.2 percent next year.

The World Bank Group committed loans, grants and credits worth USD 4.5 billion to support development across the East Asia Pacific region during fiscal year 2008. This was USD 200 million more than the previous fiscal year, reflecting the increased support for a region that is weathering the global economic downturn relatively well. Jim Adams, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific, said the region’s strategy focuses on scaling up the World Bank Group’s engagement to address the changing demands of middle income countries while also working to support countries dealing with the impacts of inflation, fragility and conflict. “The East Asia and Pacific region is the most dynamic in the world and our strategy needs to reflect the evolving challenges of such a diverse range of economies,” Adams said.

The Palestinians are becoming more dependent on foreign aid, mainly due to a sluggish economy stifled by continued Israeli restrictions on trade and movement, the World Bank said in a report Sept. 17. The bank’s report was prepared for a meeting of key donor country representatives during the UN General Assembly in New York this month. The report counters a key assumption of international policy _ that the current massive aid to the Palestinians would stimulate their economy and make them increasingly less dependent on foreign money in the future.

World Bank Vice-President for Africa Obiageli Ezekwesili Monday in Accra said Nigerian federal government should focus on getting more technical expertise and knowledge from donors to effectively utilize its resources, instead of mobilizing for more aid from donors, reported the News Agency of Nigeria. Ezekwesili said since the country was not as aid dependent as other African countries, it should focus on getting the right support, policies and institutions for its development.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) could invite ministers to Geneva in the coming weeks to resume July’s abortive talks on a new global trade pact, its head said on Sept. 16. “In the weeks to come, and depending on progress made by the negotiations at senior official level, I am ready to call ministers back to Geneva to try and close the issues which remain open,” WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy told a meeting of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), as cited by Reuters.

About the author