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The Bank as laughing stock A staff member in the World Bank's India office writes in one of the blogs on the bank's internal web site that "Seasoned Bank staff have become used to the fact that so many people despise the World Bank. Now, in addition, we may have to get used to being a laughing stock." ..

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Field notes

the Bank as laughing stock

Posted Fri, 20 Apr 2007 07:47:51

In an earlier posting I remarked on how little HQ gossip managed to filter down to the Country Office level.

Let me take that back.

Everybody here in India seems to know about our internal crisis. It has received quite a bit of press coverage (much of it the syndicated stuff you have also read, but many articles by Indian commentators, even in local newspapers). There may still be a few remote mountain villages in Bhutan who have not heard, but it's just a matter of time.

Many people have approached me on the topic: a few seem concerned, a few are looking for explanations, and others just laugh. I am uncomfortable either way.

I do not intend to judge our President here, but I would like to note that the crisis is already damaging our credibility with our Client [Bankspeak for the borrowing government. Ed.]. To illustrate:

Last year in India, the Bank called a halt to lending on the basis of charges of corruption in the health sector. Government was furious. We may never be able to regain this moral high ground if required.

In one of my projects, we are requesting a refund of Bank funds which were involved in corrupt recruitment practices. We took a tough stand. Government did not find our request appropriate, but appeared resigned to meet our terms. I am not looking forward to the next meeting with them on this. We have lost leverage.

One of my colleagues visited a Chief Secretary, who commented "What's the matter with your President? First he has holes in his socks, now he has holes in his head." This type of comment is quite unusual.

Seasoned Bank staff have become used to the fact that so many people despise the World Bank. Now, in addition, we may have to get used to being a laughing stock.

A Washington source ~ April 22, 2007


 
 
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