Where is Jim Yong Kim?
The U.S. nominee for the top post at the World Bank turned down an event organized by the Center for Global Development and The Washington Post. The event, split in two, was attended by his fellow nominees: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Jose Antonio Ocampo.
The event was supposed to shed light on the three candidates’ vision for the World Bank. And while Kim has no obligation to attend, it would have been a great opportunity for him to make known his objectives to the larger development community. The forum could have been an avenue for him to address some of the criticism thrown his way.
The New York Times says Kim’s vision for the bank is to make it more inclusive and responsive to global realities. Kim also said he would do more to “heed the views” of poorer countries that receive the bank’s financing.
But many are still at a loss as to what the development expert thinks on broader issues, such as opening the selection process at the World Bank. Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo are united in their call to put in place an open, merit-based system.
Kim’s two opponents for the bank’s presidency have been asked their thoughts on dealing with the U.S. Congress in the event that a non-American grabs the job. The question may not be of grave value for Kim as he is, after all, America’s bet for the bank. But, as Ocampo has said, negotiations with the U.S. Congress will be difficult, regardless where the next president comes from.
It will not be a surprise if Kim will focus on public health issues. Kim has dedicated his life to fighting diseases as a doctor and a co-founder of Partners in Health. He even led efforts to deliver antiretroviral drugs to millions of poor people living with HIV and AIDS while at the World Health Organization.
This may not be enough to silence critics who think he lacks experience in broader economic development. But Rob Cox, U.S. editor of Reuters Breakingviews, said putting a development specialist in the bank “for the first time” would certainly beat replicating past experiences.
The decision, to be made April 18, lies with the bank’s 25 board directors.
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