The World Bank welcomed the continued efforts of the Swiss Government to hand over to Haiti millions of stolen assets held by the Duvalier family in Switzerland, money that could be used for development purposes following January’s earthquake. The Federal Supreme Court had ordered the release of $5.7 million to the family of Haiti’s ex-dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier because the statute of limitations had expired. However, the Federal Council immediately ordered the assets to be frozen on a constitutional basis. “We welcome the decision by the Swiss authorities to freeze the looted funds. They should be returned to Haiti, especially now when the humanitarian needs have increased after the earthquake,” said World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The case highlights the technical difficulties countries face when dealing with stolen assets, and the need to undertake creative legal action to overcome the problem, she said.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget proposal opens the door for the World Bank to fund more efficient fossil fuel projects as part of a program to help poor countries develop clean technology. In proposing $400 million for the multilateral development bank’s Clean Technology Fund, the administration includes high-efficiency gas plants that displace coal generation and reduce global warming emissions at least 50 percent in its definition of “clean,” Greenwire writes. The Obama administration proposed a 9percent increase in funding for global health needs in its fiscal 2011 budget, pledging to spend more to combat preventable diseases and reduce deaths among women and children.