50 Years Is Enough: The Case against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

By Kevin Danaher | Go to book overview

29
The World Bank's New Rules
(Same as the Old Rules)

Patricia Adams

The World Bank, which for the past 50 years has developed scores of guidelines, directives and other rules to combat criticism from internal and external sotirces — and then blithely ignored them — has established a new set of measures in the wake of a highlevel report critical of the Bank's loan portfolio.

The Wapenhans Report, released in December 1992 after being ordered by incoming Bank President Lewis Preston, found that over one third of the Bank's projects were failing and that the deterioration of the Bank's $140 billion portfolio was "steady" and "pervasive."

So damning were the details and so widely was the draft document leaked that an official version of the Wapenhans Report was soon released to the public. This led to member governments demanding that Bank staff reverse the downward trend in project performance. the Bank's first attempt, prepared by former Vice President Visvanathan Rajgopalan, was rejected by the Executive Directors in May 1993 for being too casual, too anemic and too unmonitorable.

Bank management then appointed its Central Operations Director, James Adams, whose new draft was accepted by the Board on July 8 and promptly repackaged into a booklet for public consumption.

But Getting Results:The World Bank's Agenda for Improving Development Effectiveness, as the final plan is called, is a pathetic, unconvincing and ultimately futile attempt to reform an unreforrnable institution.

As the core of its action plan, the Bank pledges to "look at its whole portfolio of operations" in each country in order to identify systemic obstacles in the country's economy that are handicapping all Bank projects. Most troubling, however, is the Bank's intention to then seek "remedial actions," designing economic policies with country authorities to make Bank projects work. But history shows that what is good for World Bank projects — monopoly structures, subsidies and market distortions — is often bad for the rest of the economy.

-146-

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