Next World Bank president: ‘likely to be American’.

You could see it as stating the obvious. Or as helping to make it less likely that he’ll have to continue working with his rival and soon-to-be-former boss. Either way UK Chancellor Gordon Brown has briefed Reuters that the next World Bank is likely to be an American (i.e. not Tony Blair). Also ‘peppered’ with questions at the G8 finance minsters’ get-together was US Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt, one of the rumoured candidates. Kimmit said he was: “flattered to be associated with an institution like the World Bank,” but had no plans to change jobs. Amazingly, given recent events, he continued: “The custom and tradition of an American serving as head of the World Bank has served the world well,” Kimmitt said. “We don’t see any reason why that should change.”

The reasons are clear to many of us. But apparently also not to German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck who chaired the Group of Eight finance ministers meeting. He effectively endorsed Washington’s right to choose the World bank leader: “The (German) federal government continues to support the notion that the Americans have the right of first suggestion and nomination,” Steinbrueck said in response to a question.

Note the idea that the Europeans reserve the right to comment and challenge the suggestions/nominations.

In a separate piece Reuters carries comments from aptly named German Executive Director to the World Bank Eckhard Deutscher. Deutscher, who is currently also dean of the World Bank’s resident board also says he expects an American to run the Bank in future. And he says that the Bank needs to re-motivate its workers and design ‘a new strategy’.

Several suggestions for new approaches by the Bank are made by Njoke Njehu, a Kenyan activist who has long challenged the institution. Speaking on Voice of America she said: ““They can find the best president of the World Bank.  I don’t know who that person is.  But there needs to be a change of policy.  There needs to be a change of the attitude of the institution in terms of their know-it-all kind of attitude, where they give governments and countries time to shape their own future.  There needs to be a change, and it can’t be done by one person”.

On the Institute of Public Accuracy site you can also find further comments from Njehu and her colleagues.  She says: “the impact of the World Bank’s policy impositions of the last 20 years still devastates us every day. … Paul Wolfowitz has done nothing to change that; he is no true friend of Africa”.

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