World Bank

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Posted by bender 03/24/2009 @ 23:09

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News headlines
World Bank Plans To Lend Colombia $4 Bln Over 2008-2011 - Wall Street Journal
By Diana Delgado Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES BOGOTA (Dow Jones)--The World Bank has become a crucial source of funding for Colombia as the global financial crisis makes covering the country's fiscal deficit more challenging....
World Bank Sees Mideast Weathering Financial Crisis -Official - Wall Street Journal
DEAD SEA, Jordan (Zawya Dow Jones)--The oil-rich Middle East is weathering the global financial crisis better than other regions, an official at The World Bank said Friday. "It's safe to say that financial crisis has had a less severe effect on the...
US Stocks Advance as Libor, CA Earnings Temper Jobless Claims - Bloomberg
His prediction of a protracted slowdown echoes comments by Citigroup Inc.'s James Wolfensohn, the former World Bank president, and fellow Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. Whole Foods Market Inc., the largest natural-goods grocer in the US,...
Short-term action may hurt Africa reform -conference - Reuters
A recent World Bank outlook said infant mortality in Africa could rise as income falls, while the AfDB and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development opened the conference by forecasting the crisis would halve African growth this year....
World Bank: 65% of Bahamian GDP could be washed away - Nassau Guardian
By SHAVAUGHN MOSS ~ Lifestyles Editor ~ shavaughn@nasguard.com: If you've got a daughter between the age of eight and 18, then the best thing you could do for her this weekend is take her to the Miley Cyrus concert this weekend! Yes, I can hear it now,...
WORLD FOREX: Dollar At 1-Week High Vs Euro On Lower US Stocks - Wall Street Journal
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Empire Manufacturing Survey, released earlier Friday, showed conditions for New York manufacturers deteriorated only modestly in May, which increased hopes the US economy is on the mend....
World Bank loan to underpin reforms in Bulgaria - Southeast European Times
A new World Bank loan approved Thursday will underpin social sector reforms in Bulgaria meant to facilitate job creation and modernisation of the education system. The World Bank approved on Thursday (May 14th) an approximately 150m-euro loan to...
Paris Club Says It Cancels $845 Million of Ivory Coast Debt - Bloomberg
The International Monetary Fund and World Bank said in December that the Ivory Coast was eligible for assistance under the so-called Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. Its external debt was estimated at $14.3 billion at the end of 2007,...
Euro Declines as Economy Contracts Most in at Least 13 Years - Bloomberg
“It'sa really bad piece of data, and it's going to get worse because the European Central Bank has only come up with half-hearted measures,” said Geoffrey Yu, a strategist in London at UBS AG, the world's second-largest currency trader....
G20 must help Africa through recession: World Bank - Reuters South Africa
By Peter Griffiths LONDON (Reuters) - Leaders of the G20 nations must use their meeting in New York in September to help Africa to recover from the global economic crisis, a senior World Bank official said on Friday. Shanta Devarajan, chief economist...

World Bank

World Bank Logo.svg

The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries for development programs (e.g. bridges, roads, schools, etc.) with the stated goal of reducing poverty.

The World Bank was created following the ratification of the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference of the Bretton Woods agreement. The concept was originally conceived in July 1944 at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference. Two years later, the Bank issued its first loan: US$250 million to France for post-war reconstruction, the main focus of the Bank's work in the early post-World War II years. Over time, the "development" side of the Bank's work has assumed a larger share of its lending, although it is still involved in post-conflict reconstruction, together with reconstruction after natural disasters, response to humanitarian emergencies and post-conflict rehabilitation needs affecting developing and transition economies. There were criticisms of the results of the World Bank's "development schemes" leading to corruption and widespread exploitation by the corporations who are given monopolies of developing nations' resources.

The World Bank is one of the two Bretton Woods Institutions which were created in 1944 to rebuild a war-torn Europe after World War II. Later, largely due to the contributions of the Marshall Plan, the World Bank was forced to find a new area in which to focus its efforts. Subsequently, it began attempting to rebuild the infrastructure of Europe's former colonies. Since then it has made a variety of changes regarding its focus and goals. From 1968-1981 it focused largely on poverty alleviation. In the 1980s and 1990s its main focus was both debt management and structural adjustment.

The World Bank's current focus is on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), lending primarily to "middle-income countries" at interest rates which reflect a small mark-up over its own (AAA-rated) borrowings from capital markets; while the IDA provides low or no interest loans and grants to low income countries with little or no access to international credit markets. The IBRD is a market based non-profit organization, using its high credit rating to make up for the relatively low interest rate on its loans, while the IDA is funded primarily by periodic "replenishments" (grants) voted to the institution by its more affluent member countries.

The Bank offers two basic types of loans: investment loans and development policy loans. The former are made for the support of economic and social development projects, whereas the latter provide quick disbursing finance to support countries’ policy and institutional reforms. While the IBRD provides loans with a relatively low interest rate, the IDA’s "credits" are interest free. The project proposals of borrowers are evaluated for their economical, financial, social and environmental aspects prior to their approval. But not all of this is true, somtimes its different.

The Bank not only provides financial support to its member states, but also analytical and advisory services to facilitate the implementation of the lasting economic and social improvements that are needed in many under-developed countries, as well as educating members with the knowledge necessary to resolve their development problems while promoting.

The President of the Bank, currently Robert B. Zoellick, is responsible for chairing the meetings of the Boards of Directors and for overall management of the Bank.

The Executive Directors make up the Board of Directors, usually meeting twice a week to oversee activities such as the approval of loans and guarantees, new policies, the administrative budget, country assistance strategies and borrowing and financing decisions.

The Vice Presidents of the Bank are its principal managers, in charge of regions, sectors, networks and functions. There are 24 Vice-Presidents, 3 Senior Vice Presidents and 2 Executive Vice Presidents.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has 185 member countries, while the International Development Association (IDA) has 168 members. Each member state of IBRD should be also a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and only members of IBRD are allowed to join other institutions within the Bank (such as IDA).

For the poorest developing countries in the world the Bank’s assistance plans are based on Poverty Reduction Strategies; by combining a cross-section of local groups with an extensive analysis of the country’s financial and economical situation the World Bank develops a strategy pertaining uniquely to the country in question. The government then identifies the country’s priorities and targets for the reduction of poverty, and the World Bank aligns its aid efforts correspondingly.

The Bank supports certain kinds of poor people's organisations such as the Self-Employed Women's Union and Shack/Slum Dwellers International.

Forty-five countries pledged US$25.1 billion in "aid for the world's poorest countries", aid that goes to the World Bank International Development Association (I.D.A.) which distributes the gifts to eighty poorer countries. While wealthier nations sometimes fund their own aid projects, including those for diseases recently, and although I.D.A. is the recipient of criticism, Robert B. Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, said when the gifts were announced on December 15, 2007, that I.D.A. money "is the core funding that the poorest developing countries rely on".

The World Bank has been assigned temporary management responsibility of the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), focused on making renewable energy cost-competitive with coal-fired power as quickly as possible, but this may not continue after UN's Copenhagen climate change conference in December, 2009, because of its continued investment in coal-fired power plants.

The World Bank Institute (WBI) creates learning opportunities for countries, World Bank staff and clients, and people committed to poverty reduction and sustainable development. WBI's work program includes training, policy consultations, and the creation and support of knowledge networks related to international economic and social development.

The Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) is a partnership of over 120 learning centers (GDLN Affiliates) in nearly 80 countries around the world. GDLN Affiliates collaborate in holding events that connect people across countries and regions for learning and dialogue on development issues. Offering a combination of distance learning tools such as interactive videoconferencing and the internet, and expert facilitation and learning techniques, GDLN Affiliates enable individuals, teams, and organizations working in development around the world to communicate, share knowledge, and learn from each others’ experiences in a timely and cost-effective manner.

GDLN clients are typically NGOs, government, private sector and development agencies who find that they work better together on subregional, regional or global development issues and challenges using the facilities and tools offered by GDLN Affiliates. Clients also benefit from the ability of Affiliates to help them choose and apply these tools effectively, and to tap development practitioners and experts worldwide. GDLN Affiliates facilitate around 1000 videoconference-based activities a year on behalf of their clients, reaching some 90,000 people worldwide. Most of these activities bring together participants in two or more countries over a series of session. A majority of GDLN activities are organized by small government agencies and NGOs.

The GDLN in the East Asia and Pacific region has experienced rapid growth and Distance Learning Centers now operate, or are planned in 20 countries: Australia, Mongolia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Japan, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Thailand, Laos, Timor Leste, Fiji, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and New Zealand. With over 180 Distance Learning Centers, it is the largest development learning network in the Asia and Pacific region. The Secretariat Office of GDLN Asia Pacific is located in the Center of Academic Resources of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

GDLN Asia Pacific was launched at the GDLN’s East Asia and Pacific regional meeting held in Bangkok from 22 to 24 May 2006. Its vision is to become “the premier network exchanging ideas, experience and know-how across the Asia Pacific Region”. GDLN Asia Pacific is a separate entity to The World Bank. It has endorsed its own Charter and Business Plan and, in accordance with the Charter, a GDLN Asia Pacific Governing Committee has been appointed.

The committee comprises China (2), Australia (1), Thailand (1), The World Bank (1) and finally, a nominee of the Government of Japan (1). The organization is currently hosted by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, founding member of the GDLN Asia Pacific.

The Governing Committee has determined that the most appropriate legal status for the GDLN AP in Thailand is a “Foundation”. The World Bank is currently engaging a solicitor in Thailand to process all documentation in order to obtain this legal status.

GDLN Asia Pacific is built on the principle of shared resources among partners engaged in a common task, and this is visible in the organizational structures that exist, as the network evolves. Physical space for its headquarters is provided by the host of the GDLN Centre in Thailand – Chulalongkorn University; Technical expertise and some infrastructure is provided by the Tokyo Development Learning Centre (TDLC); Fiduciary services are provided by Australian National University (ANU) Until the GDLN Asia Pacific is established as a legal entity tin Thailand, ANU, has offered to assist the governing committee, by providing a means of managing the inflow and outflow of funds and of reporting on them. This admittedly results in some complexity in contracting arrangements, which need to be worked out on a case by case basis and depends to some extent on the legal requirements of the countries involved.

Some critics of the World Bank believe that the institution was not started in order to reduce poverty but rather to support United States' business interests, and argue that the bank has actually increased poverty and been detrimental to the environment, public health, and cultural diversity. Some critics also claim that the World Bank has consistently pushed a neoliberal agenda, imposing policies on developing countries which have been damaging, destructive and anti-developmental. Some intellectuals in developing countries have argued that the World Bank is deeply implicated in contemporary modes of donor and NGO driven imperialism and that its intellectual output functions to blame the poor for their condition.

The World Bank supported from the beginning the Brazilian Castello Branco’s authoritarian-rightist government, supplying it with a $80 million loan for power projects.

It has also been suggested that the World Bank is an instrument for the promotion of U.S. or Western interests in certain regions of the world. Consequently, seven South American nations have established the Bank of the South in order to minimize U.S. influence in the region. Criticisms of the structure of the World Bank refer to the fact that the President of the Bank is always a citizen of the United States, nominated by the President of the United States (though subject to the approval of the other member countries). There have been accusations that the decision-making structure is undemocratic, as the U.S. effectively has a veto on some constitutional decisions with just over 16% of the shares in the bank; moreover, decisions can only be passed with votes from countries whose shares total more than 85% of the bank's shares. A further criticism concerns internal governance and the manner in which the World Bank is alleged to lack transparency to external publics.

In 2008, a World Bank report which found that biofuels had driven food prices up 75% was not published. Officials confided that they believed it was withheld from publication to avoid embarrassing the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

The World Bank also plays an important role in many conspiracy theories such as the New World Order, where it is accused to be a catalyst for the growing global social disparity aiming at the financial enslavement of the western world, matching conditions with the third world, through the control of global monetary policies.

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World Bank Oslo 2002 Protests

Demonstrators assembled before the march

During the World Bank Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics in Oslo, Norway in 2002 large globalization-critical protests were held. A coalition of many organizations organized an alternative conference and a demonstration with about 10 000 participants. Before the protests there was much concern about violence and riots, but the actual protest was almost entirely peaceful with a few minor incidents.

The World Bank has held its Annual World Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) since 1988. The June 24-26 2002 conference focused on poverty and on implementing the commitments made of the Monterrey Consensus from March the same year. The conference was held in the hills above Oslo, in a hotel at Holmenkollen. It was originally planned to be held in Stockholm, Sweden, but was moved to Oslo so as not to interfere with the Swedish general election, 2002.

The network claimed that the World bank is an undemocratic institution used by rich nations to control poor countries.. Einar Braathen and Reidun Heiene of ATTAC Norway and the Oslo 2002 network also criticized the bank for believing too much in market-based solutions.

In the weeks leading up to the conference and protests there was much concern about possible violence. The protests during the EU summit in Gothenburg 2001 were marred with vandalism and violent clashes between police and masked protesters. The previous year's World Bank conference in Barcelona had to be cancelled and held online instead.

Many protesters were expected from other countries, especially neighboring Sweden and Denmark, but also some other parts of Europe. Extra border patrols were put in place between Sweden and Norway, a border that is normally uncontrolled. There were lists of at least 500 persons who would not be allowed to enter the country. An 18-year-old Swedish man was arrested in Oslo and later deported to Sweden. An other nine were apprehended at the Svinesund border crossing, but later released. A bus with 27 Danish citizens was stopped and their passports were copied by the police. Representatives for the protest organizers said the police should not arrest people who had committed no crime using anti-terrorist laws because it would label all protesters as criminals.

Some downtown merchants were afraid of vandalism. Vehicles were not be allowed to stop in downtown Oslo for five days, buses and trains were stopped during the march and garbage cans were removed from the streets.

900 Norwegian police officers trained before the conference at a temporary training ground on the closed Fornebu airport. 20 courtrooms with judges were kept ready to handle urgent cases. A special holding facility was also constructed. The police primarily feared that unofficial protests after the large march would become violent, especially the anarchist Blitz movement. An other worry was provocation from counter-demonstrations by neo-nazi and extreme right-wing groups.

The organizers, Oslo 2002, said they did not expect violence and they has been assured by the police there would be no provocations. Masks were not allowed in the demonstration.

The protest march on June 24 started at 18.30 from Oslo Central Station and proceeded around central Oslo. Over 10,000 people participated in the march that was described by news writers as peaceful, colorful and carnival-like. At 19.45 the first marchers came back to Jernbanetorget along Karl Johans Street. On the square there were speeches on the theme "Vår verden er ikke til salgs - stopp Verdensbanken" (Our world is not for sale - stop the World Bank).

The police kept a low profile but waited nearby. After the demonstration reached the end, at least ten stones where thrown towards a McDonalds restaurant, but no window was broken. They throwers were soon stopped by older participants.

Later in the evening was an un-organized after party in a central city park, which was also peaceful except for a quarrel between youths, apparently over a personal conflict rather than for political reasons.

The Open Forum aimed to share experiences by various social organizations, national and international NGOs, Jubilee South, the Norwegian Cancel the Debt Coalition (SLUG), ATTAC; peace- and human rights organisations, anti-globalisation initiatives and World Bank critics like SAPRIN. They criticized the World Bank for being undemocratic and becoming too powerful, at the cost of the United Nations. According to the organizers, the fundamentally undemocratic development hurt the poorest people in the world. They refuted the banks claims of reform saying it did not learn from its mistakes.

Norwegian Minister of International Development Hilde Frafjord Johnson said the critics should work with the World bank instead of renouncing it.

Attac also organized a debate evening at University of Oslo where some World Bank representatives and critics met and discussed.

A police representative was happy that the protest was calm and that everybody could enjoy the nice summer day in Oslo and protest at the same time. Gustav Fridolin of the Swedish Green Party who participated in the protest commented that the Norwegian police had learned from the mistakes of the Swedish police in Gothenburg the year before. In his closing speech of the ABCDE conference David Hulme from Manchester University called (somewhat jokingly) for a "strategy for reduced arrogance". Several speakers had called for a reform of the World Bank where the fight against world poverty is taken seriously.

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World Bank Building, Asmara

The World Bank Building of Asmara, Eritrea is a large old Italian villa which was bought by the world bank to house its headquarters in that country. The architecture of the building is a mixture of Futurist and Art Deco architectural styles.

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World Bank Director-General Evaluation

The World Bank Director-General Evaluation (DGE) oversees the work of three units of the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG): IEG-World Bank evaluates IBRD and IDA support to countries' overall development; IEG-IFC evaluates Bank Group activities that focus on contributions to private sector development and on strengthening the business climate; and IEG-MIGA evaluates the impact of Bank Group political risk guarantees and technical assistance aimed at improving foreign direct investment to developing countries. These three units, under the overall guidance of the Director-General, disseminate their findings with the aim of enhancing the Bank Group's development effectiveness. The Director-General also works closely with development partners to foster international evaluation harmonization, strengthen evaluation capacity in developing countries, and encourage evaluations of the international development system.

This position is currently held by Vinod Thomas as of July 2005.

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Source : Wikipedia