SAVING THE BANK

 

FEBRUARY 1, 2019

SAVING THE BANK


-- Kristalina Georgieva

Speculation about the early resignation of World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, three years before his term expires, was superseded by doubts about a forthcoming replacement in the current U.S. political decisions.

With regards to the U.N., Mr. Kim had worked very closely with Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, with whom he shared a Korean background. They traveled together to areas in need of political aid and financial assistance and produced very positive results. It may be that Mr. Kim left for a better salary in a private firm, or as some suspect, averted a potential determination to let him go.

The practical question is: what is next in the leadership of the World Bank? Traditionally, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) post was left for the American government, while its sister, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), accommodated France. Even when the former Fund Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn was caught in an awkward situation in New York, he was replaced by a French Minister, who in fact, proved to be an impressive manager.

Key member states are concerned a political appointee by the Trump administration may not play the usual role of a team leader. Certain names have been mentioned along with a press report that candidates for the post were being reviewed by Ms. Ivanka Trump. One name mentioned was a former president of a famous beverage company, Pepsi-Cola. Perhaps a practical way out would be to fill the remaining three years of Mr. Kim's mandate with an acting president familiar with the bank's work and has the confidence of the full membership.

The banks' board had designated Kristalina Georgieva as chief executive officer when Mr. Kim was mostly devoting his time traveling to areas of interest. She was asked to take interim charge until a new president is selected. Ms. Georgieva of Bulgaria is known as a competent insider with proven experience and ability to work with all members. In an interview with the BBC in Davos, she stressed the bank's role in helping needy developing countries, her own efforts to advance women's rights in public service, the need for children's education, and averting climate disasters. To her credit, she practices what she advocates. Why not keep her in charge for the next three years, the appropriate time when a new Bank President could be appointed. At least she deserves an appreciative recognition, so do member states.