World Bank gets a capital increase, now must put people at the center of its work

 

Reacting to news that the World Bank’s donors struck a deal to provide a $13 billion capital increase to the institution, Nadia Daar, the head of Oxfam International’s Washington office said:

 

“At the start of the week, we urged the Bank to show it’s serious about 'ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity' in discussions on additional funding. We’re pleased to see them recommit to these goals, but now it’s up to the Bank’s programming to show it's putting money where its mouth is.”

 

In the communique published by the World Bank’s Development Committee, the group of government ministers that steer the Bank’s work, donors urged the Bank to work on gender equality, climate change, rigorous implementation of its environmental and social safeguards, and to keep in mind the needs of vulnerable countries.

 

Notably, the communique also called on the Bank to “continue to crowd in private sector resources to contribute to stability and growth potential, quality infrastructure, and human capital, including through strengthened health and education systems." 

 

“While there are many parts of the communique we like, and we’re excited to see the Bank’s renewed focus on human capital, we remain deeply concerned about relying on the private sector to deliver such services,” Daar said. “As we’ve seen with the IFC’s experiment with Bridge schools, this model can exclude, and in some cases, downright harm the communities in poverty the Bank is meant to help.”

 

Oxfam has spoken out against fees charged by health and education providers, which make getting an education or treatment for an illness unaffordable to poor communities.

 

The UHC Financing Forum took place on the sidelines of the Spring Meetings. The Global Financing Facility, a World Bank-supported healthcare initiative, there took a stance against "out-of-pocket" fees in healthcare, stressing how they can be catastrophic for those in poverty.

 

“We would like to see the Bank emphasize this position in its work with governments around the world and help put an end to such fees,” said Daar.

 

Building and spending revenues more progressively is one of the keys to the financing problem at the heart of these discussions. Oxfam was pleased to see the communique call on the IMF and World Bank to further boost “domestic resource mobilization” efforts and combat illicit financial flows.

 

In a sign of how much things have changed in the wake of the Panama and Paradise papers, the Bank and IMF hosted a debate on “Formulary Apportionment,” a revolutionary approach to taxing multinational corporations.

 

“Only through such open and constructive exchanges of ideas will we find solutions to big, thorny problems,” said Daar.

 

Contact information: 

Simon Hernandez-Arthur in Washington | simon.hernandezarthur@oxfam.org | +1 585 503 4568 | Twitter: @SimonHernandez

For more on the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings, follow @OxfamIFIs