Oxfam says new World Bank President will need to prove he is right for the job

Published: 30 May 2007

Oxfam International today set out a six point plan for the next President of the World Bank to prove he is the right person to rebuild the institution's shattered credibility.

"The President should have been selected on merit, not nationality. But if Zoellick addresses these priorities, taking the focus to fighting poverty, this will go a long way to showing that he was indeed the right person for the job," says Elizabeth Stuart, senior policy advisor for Oxfam International.

  1. Turn the Bank's incentives upside down, so its business of helping poor countries reach their development goals is in everyone's job description.
  2. Cut the inappropriate strings it continues to attach to loans, which in many cases increase rather than reduce poverty. In Mali, for instance, the Bank's own analysis show its loan conditions would likely increase poverty by almost 5%.
  3. Give real support to free basic public services such as healthcare. A good place to start would be actively helping countries stop charging poor people to access clinics. In Nigeria, the number of women dying in childbirth doubled when user fees were introduced.
  4. Shake up the way it gives advice. The Bank fails to assess the impact its reforms will have. Before it proposes any major change, the Bank needs to be clear it is actually the right policy.
  5. Wake up its research department. It must stop relying on questionable modeling techniques and instead look at what's happening in the real world, using local researchers. And it must translate its findings into action, rather than letting reports rot on shelves and basing policies on ideology.
  6. Zoellick must be the last American-appointed President. He must quickly instigate a reform of a wide range of governance issues, from the nomination of the President, to the say that poor countries have in the decisions that affect them most.

"The Bank has just had a protracted period of washing its dirty linen in public. Rather than now trying the hide the laundry, the new President must make these real changes," says Stuart. "Failure to do so will mean that donors may decide not to replenish its coffers."

Contact Information

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Laura Rusu (US) +1 202 459 3739,
Lys Holdaway (UK) +44 (0) 7721 461 342, or
Sebastien Fourmy (France) +33 (0) 6 10851929