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World Bank: Why America gets to pick the president & its global implications

38 8 5

THE president of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim resigned from his post on Monday with more than three years left in his tenure. Kim’s departure now opens up the prospect of a succession battle that could turn on its head a decades-old tradition that many see as holding back the development organisation.

Since its foundation in 1945, the Bank has always been run by an American with the top role appointed by the US presidential administration at the time.

Why all the Americans?

This method of appointment came about in the wake of World War II when, during a meeting in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, the United States and European allies came to the understanding a European would run the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and an American would control the World Bank.

And the agreement has stuck, despite the changing nature and objective of the institution.

The World Bank was originally founded to aid rebuilding efforts after the war. Much of its first loans went to funding infrastructure projects in France and other areas of Western Europe.

But as Europe healed, the Bank shifted focus and turned its attention to developing nations. The eradication of poverty became the organisation’s predominant driver; so much so, the motto, “Our dream is a world free of poverty,” is carved in stone at the Bank’s entrance in Washington DC.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim delivers a speech during the “reinvented toilet expo” in Beijing, November 5, 2018. Source: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP

Given the change of geographical focus, from the western world to a predominantly Sub-Saharan Africa base, a change of leadership began to make sense to many.

Former-US President Barack Obama had a chance to change the system back in 2012, but instead appointed Kim as a middle-ground candidate. Obama hoped his South Korean heritage and background........

© Asian Correspondent