MPs call for World Bank shake-up
The World Bank is in "desperate" need of reform, which should include ending the arrangement under which its president always comes from the US, a parliamentary report has said.
The House of Commons International Development Committee said it was time to end the 65-year-old "gentlemen's agreement" which reserves the top job at the World Bank for an American and the managing directorship of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a European.
The cross-party committee said Britain should back calls for reform of voting power at the World Bank to give a greater voice to the developing countries which receive grants and loans from the international body.
But it added that the UK - as the World Bank's second-largest donor, with a total of almost £2.7 billion (4.35 billion US dollars) committed to its 50 billion dollar development drive over the next three years - should "retain sufficient influence" after any reforms.
The report voiced concern about the World Bank's handling of projects in developing countries funded by its multi-billion pound grants and loans, warning that it was "unacceptable" if progress towards the UN's Millennium Development Goals was "delayed, sometimes for years, through inefficiencies in the bank's approach or lack of administrative capacity in a country".
The committee cautiously welcomed the Department for International Development's announcement in December of increased contributions to the World Bank development programme, but it called for greater Parliamentary scrutiny of its spending and warned in a new report that the bank must be reformed.
The MPs called for a "more open and merit-based process" for selecting a successor to current president Robert Zoellick; a more equitable allocation of voting shares for developing countries; a stronger bank watchdog; greater priority for girls' education; and more support for renewable energy".
Committee chairman Malcolm Bruce said: "It is right for the UK to be putting more money into World Bank aid programmes, but the institution desperately needs reforming. The UK should use its clout as the second-largest donor to the World Bank aid programme to demand it becomes fairer and more open and accountable.
"We would also like to see more aid focused on meeting Millennium Development Goals on girls' education and greater efforts made to promote low carbon forms of energy.
"The Government must give MPs the chance to fully debate the key decisions taken by the bank given the large sums of money being donated by Britain."