17 May, 2007

At Last....

Paul D. Wolfowitz this evening ended weeks of furor over charges of favoritism toward a bank employee who is his female companion and announced his resignation as president of the World Bank, effective June 30. He should have resigned much earlier; why did it have to take him so long?

This is the same man who said: “The problem of corruption is a big drag on the Bangladesh economy,” and yet - after him being involved in events that can only be described as 'corrupt' - when it came for him to do the needed and most honorable thing: gracefully resign, he had to 'drag' things and it had to take him - this long. "In the larger scheme of things, we have much more important things to focus on," was his reasoning. The 'much more important thing' to do, from the beginning - was, for him to resign. In a dignified way.

The World Bank Group (WBG) is a family of five international organizations responsible for providing finance and advice to countries for the purposes of economic development and eliminating poverty. The Bank came into formal existence on 27 December 1945. Decisions made by the World Bank affect millions of people around the World. Most, in developing countries. Like here in Hadhramout. Like here in Yemen. Most of whom are impoverished. For many, the decisions made by the Bank - is a matter of whether they will have their next meal or not; a matter of life and death. What it does, is important. And what its employees, those entrusted with ensuring that the Bank functions properly, smoothly and honestly, do - is important. Very important. To and for everyone and anyone who hopes for a better world; and who cares for improving lives.

The World Bank states its main goals and mission as: global poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards. And yet: "over the years, the World Bank's hypocrisy has been so extreme as to be taken for granted. The ironies of talking about ending global poverty, interest rates and export policies while staying at five-star hotels and attending lavishly catered meetings.."* And its employees "receive outrageous perks including tax-free income, subsidized education for children and so on..."* All these, discourages and disheartens support for the Bank. It is a fact too, that many countries and lives have been destabilised or destroyed by the Bank and its sister institution, the IMF - by their lending methods and policies.

All these aside. Now: what next? "Whoever takes the job next will inherit an institution that has failed basic standards of accountability and transparency, and has not made a dent in its supposed mission of poverty reduction. The new president will certainly have work to do. Some good house cleaning, including implementing real accountability and transparency measures -- for the bank and not just the countries that borrow from it -- would be a good start. One more step may be to start talking about how the Bank can make reparations for its past sins, especially those of pushing a failed economic paradigm onto developing countries."*


Photo: pbs.org

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Quoted From: Monitor