who will be next World Bank President What will they do


Bank chief's parting shots. The Wall Street Journal carries an interview with Bank president Wolfensohn. It confirms that Wolfensohn conducted "a rear-guard action to prevent his removal" and that he never got on well with former US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. O'Neill criticized Mr. Wolfensohn's management style and considered having him replaced in 2001.

Wolfensohn told the WSJ's Dan Bilefsky: "I haven't always been popular with the Republican administration because I wasn't nominated by them".

The WSJ states that Robert Nichols, spokesman for the U.S. Treasury, said current U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow held Mr. Wolfensohn in high regard and was drawing on his input in the succession process at the World Bank. He commented: "The two have a positive and productive working relationship, and they meet frequently".

Mr. Wolfensohn acknowledged that his efforts to shake up the bank's hierarchy -- he decentralized the management structure and forced country directors to leave their desks in Washington for the field in Africa and Indonesia -- hadn't always won him friends. The shake-up "is why some people say I am a difficult character," he said.

Mr. Wolfensohn warned of the dangers of aid fatigue and urged the world's wealthiest countries not to forget about Africa after the tsunami. He chastised the world's wealthy countries for their failure to double the world's total development assistance. "The political will just isn't there," he said.

And he called for the world's finance leaders to slash the debt load of the world's poorest countries, backing Britain's proposal to cancel the debt owed by 27 of the world's poorest countries to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank by using funding from big creditor countries to cover the cost.

The Journal article provides further evidence of the eyeballs on this site. It states: "Web site worldbankpresident.org, an independent European-run site monitoring the race, lists Mr. Clinton among possible successors. The list also includes former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Michigan State University President Peter McPherson. Mr. Wolfensohn said he and Treasury Secretary Snow had checked out the site over dinner last week to see how the horserace was progressing. But he declined to pick a favorite".

Alex Wilks ~ January 27, 2005

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