The World Bank has dismissed claims of conflict of interest in the case of a bank staff member, who is related to a Philippine government official.
“The issue was raised whether a WB staff member related to a government official could influence government decision to borrow from the World Bank? The answer is: clearly not,” according to Leonora Aquino-Gonzales, head of external relations in the bank’s Philippine office.
The response came after Gabriela party-list member Luzviminda Ilagan raised an alleged conflict-of-interest situation concerning Philippine Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr.’s son-in-law, who happens to be a senior rural development economist for the World Bank’s Philippine office.
“The WB competes with other multilateral agencies in lending to the Philippines. Since the Abads are seen to be in positions that can influence the government on deciding where it will borrow, choosing the WB will immediately be cast in a cloud of suspicion of favoritism,” Ilagan was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Aquino-Gonzales explained that the processing and approval of World Bank loans is “a thorough process” involving numerous technical and non-technical staff in many government units and World Bank departments.
“Not one single staff of the World Bank could influence the decision to borrow (in the case of the Government) or to lend (in the case of the World Bank.),” Aquino-Gonzales wrote in a letter to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
A three-year country assistance strategy governs the World Bank’s engagement in the Philippines, Aquino-Gonzales said. It was was agreed between the agency and the government and discussed with many stakeholders, she added.