* World Bank chief preparing reforms
* Kim to present plans at meetings in Tokyo
* Changes needed to make World Bank more effective
By Lesley Wroughton
WASHINGTON, Oct 4 The head of the World Bank
said on Thursday he is preparing broad reforms at the
development lender to make it more effective in ending global
poverty and will discuss the changes with member countries at
meetings in Tokyo next week.
The annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and
World Bank from Oct. 11-14 in Japan will be the first
opportunity for Jim Yong Kim to put his mark on the institution
since becoming president in July.
"We're not ready to ask for specific changes yet ... but if
we are going to be really serious about ending poverty earlier
than currently projected ... there are going to have to be some
changes in the way we run the institution," Kim told reporters.
He said he wants the poverty-fighting institution to be less
focused on pushing development loans out of the door and more on
making a difference on the ground.
"Specifically, I am going to ask the governors to work with
us so the organization can move to a model where we move more
quickly, we can make mid-course corrections more easily and
where our board and our governors focus much more on holding us
accountable for results on the ground in countries, rather than
focusing so much on approval of large loans," he added.
Kim said he would be more specific about reforms at the next
meetings of member countries in April.
"The need for these changes have been clear for a very long
time," he added.
With the United States and European countries wrestling with
weak growth and high debt burdens, Kim said now was not the time
to ask big donors to pony up money for the World Bank.
"At this point, I see really no appetite ... it is not the
time for us to have a discussion about a capital increase, this
is something I don't think the donor countries are ready for,"
Kim, a Harvard-trained medical doctor and anthropologist,
said the Tokyo meetings would also highlight growing concerns
about rising food prices and the impact climate change is having
on farmers around the globe.
The worst drought in half a century in the United States and
poor crops from the Black Sea bread basket have lifted world
prices of staples such as corn, wheat and soybeans. While prices
have not reached 2008 record levels, increased food price
volatility is a worry.
As the first scientist to head the World Bank, Kim said the
increases have raised his concern over the impact on poor
countries from climate change.
"This is the first drought that scientists clearly
attributed to man-made climate change," Kim said. "Climate
change is real, the scientific community is overwhelming in
agreement about the dimensions about man-made climate change and
we simply must face it."
Until now, the World Bank has been reluctant to speak out
loudly on global climate change for fear of getting involved in
the politics of combat ting global warming.
Developing countries have blamed the European Union, the
United States and other rich economies for trying to avoid
deeper emissions cuts and dodging increases in finance to help
poorer nations deal with climate change.
SLOWING GLOBAL GROWTH
Kim said the euro zone debt crisis and its impact around the
world would also loom large in the Tokyo meetings.
Developing nations, which have so far weathered the global
crisis well, are now seeing clear signs of slowing economic
activity as a two-year debt crisis in the euro zone continues to
stifle demand and financial markets are roiled by uncertainty
over bailout prospects for Greece and Spain.
Despite the slowdown, economies in Africa, Asia and Latin
America are still likely to grow at rates above 5 percent thanks
to more than a decade of solid policies and a growing interest
by investors to tap into so-called frontier markets.
"All of us are rooting for the Europeans to quickly find a
path toward solidarity in a way to resolve their problems," Kim
said, adding that the World Bank stood ready to offer its
expertise to any country, include those in the euro zone.
The bank has had decades of experience working with
governments in developing countries to help improve the
functioning of their economies through structural changes. Some
analysts believe that expertise could help countries like Greece
As Kim hones in on ways to make the World Bank more
flexible, he said it should focus on helping governments create
an environment where businesses can flourish and create jobs -
one of the most pressing issues facing many countries.
"One of the things we are trying to do is define more
clearly what is the bottom line for the World Bank, what is it
that we really do, and how we are going to organize ourselves so
that every day we are working toward that bottom line," he said.
"It seems clear that what we're best at and what people have
the greatest passion for is to work to end poverty. The way we
do that is by boosting prosperity," Kim added.