World Bank chief says developing countries to have "bigger say"

08:46, April 23, 2010      

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The World Bank is on a turning point, and shareholders of the bank must keep their promise to give developing countries "a bigger say" in the international financial organization, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Thursday.

Zoellick said that after a first phase of reforms agreed in 2008, developing countries have a 44 percent share in the World Bank. At the Pittsburgh G20 summit in September 2009 and the Istanbul Development Committee in October 2009, the bank's shareholders agreed to move to at least 47 percent for developing and transition countries.

"This promise must be kept," Zoellick told reporters before the bank and its sibling organization -- the International Monetary Fund's annual spring meetings on April 24 to 25.

"We are now in a new, fast-evolving multipolar world economy," Zoellick said. "Economic and political tectonic plates are shifting. We can shift with them, or we can continue to see a new world through the prism of the old."

The World Bank chief said that developing countries are key sources of demand for the global economic recovery, and over time, they can become multiple poles of growth.

"We must recognize these new realities. And act on them," Zoellick said.

Zoellick said that geo-politics as usual won't work, and neither will international institutions working as usual. The World Bank has to change.

He urged shareholders of the bank to bridge their differences and take this historic step.

Discussions have been ongoing for months and are continuing among shareholders this week.

During the spring meetings, 186 shareholders of the World Bank will also discuss the most comprehensive reform program in the Bank's history.

They will decide on whether to support the first capital increase at the World Bank in more than 20 years.

"This is a once in a generation request to address the impact of a once in a generation crisis," Zoellick said.

Since July 2008, the World Bank has made commitments of 105 billion dollars to tackle the global financial crisis and economic recession.



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