Zoellick deal stitched up.

Amidst the stack of mindless articles carrying verbatim the Bank’s press release on Zoellick’s coronation, Steven Weisman’s piece for the New York Times stands out.  He highlights one of the thorny issues that Zoellick will have to deal with – deciding whether Suzanne Rich Folsom, head of the department of institutional integrity, is doing a good job scaring bad corrupt Bank staff, or was doing a bad job of advancing the interests of the Wolfowitz coterie.

Krishna Guha reports in the FT that “at a four-hour meeting last Wednesday, the board grilled Mr Zoellick on leadership, strategy, corporate governance, the environment facing multilateral institutions and the independence of the Bank”.  From my inside sources, all that ‘grilling’ revealed to most board members was how sorely they missed a second candidate.  The FT is running an open blog on ‘what Zoellick’s priorities should be’ (well, we’ll see how long the FT keeps it open).  Let’s hope Krishna keeps up the quality of reporting that he showed during the Wolfowitz debacle.

A few of my own questions… 

Will the misdeeds of the rest of Wolfowitz’s political appointees be fully investigated? 

Will the board urgently embark on the process of establishing performance evaluation systems for both the president and for themselves?

How will Zoellick and the board respond to the increasing question marks being raised about the impartiality of Paul Volcker’s review of INT? Surely the last two months have shown the need for a proper whistleblower policy.

And speaking of proper policies – will the laughable ‘investigation’ into board leaks be officially shut down and a review of the disclosure policy finally confront board secrecy – the real root of the problem? 

Will Zoellick follow the good lead of De Rato at the IMF and declare his support for ending the presidential fix? This is perhaps the least important – though the most obvious – of a whole series of reforms which are needed if the Bank is to come anywhere near international standards of democratic accountability.

6 thoughts on “Zoellick deal stitched up.

  1. Conspiracy theory:
    http://www.whistleblower.typepad.com/

    “One has to wonder if this will be the last time that the U.S. will solely nominate the next executive, given the scandals emerging from Paul Wolfowitz’ tenure – it is possible a spoken deal was reached between America and the Board last month, for which Wolfowitz would agree to resign if the U.S. retained the right to name his successor (at least this time).”

    We will see what happen the next time around or whether good governance or meritocracy will go the way of the dodo (do like I say not like I do, huh!)

  2. “International standards of democratic accountability”? Lawd, lawd, lawd. How many of the Bank’s member governments uphold these standards with their own populations? Do you really think that giving China greater voice on the Board will lead to more transparency? Or Uzbekistan? Nigeria? Congo? Vietnam? Cambodia? Russia? Need I go on? Don’t be silly. And as for “meritocracy,” when ALL the UN agencies are subject to the same standards, I’m sure the US will agree. But that means no WHO for the Asians, no IMF for the Europeans, not to mention all the other specialized agencies. This issue is not going to move far before other donors get cold feet.

  3. Dear Spare me,

    I couldn’t agree more. On both points. Many of the Bank’s members are not democracies. Many are obstructing greater transparency at the Bank. But why give them the excuse of saying ‘but look at what the rich countries do’? Why make it more complicated for their citizens to know who is responsible for decisions affecting their lives?

    And, yes, absolutely, no more European head of the IMF, no more Japanese head of the ADB. I can tell you that I have (and will) campaign on the former, trying to shame European governments.

  4. Spare Me,

    “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” No country can claim the moral high ground when it comes to transparency and “pure” democracy. In the U.S., we have an executive branch that feels justified in keeping secrets – even from the other branches of government, not to mention the citizens. And meritocracy? Puleeze! I agree with Jeff – the so-called developed world is not much of a model for the developing nations – and, if put on the spot and made to be transparently accountable, they may actually have to do the right thing.

    But we all know that very little of the decision-making has anything to do with helping the poor. It is all part of a game of national power politics – the U.S. included. In the private sector, shareholders sink or swim together – the quality of their decisions affects their mutual pocketbooks. Not so the World Bank, where the shareholders seem to think that its a zero-sum game – sorry guys, you all lose!

  5. “international standards of democratic accountability” may be hard to nail down, when so many of the Bank’s member countries seem to have such widely varying views on what these might be. But perhaps one might start by agreeing on some shared views of financial accountability. A first step would be for Bank member countries to cease guaranteeing the paper which the Bank sells in the capital markets. Imagine the Bank’s financial managers in a monthly conference call with the Street, London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, etc., discussing the Bank’s financial projections, such as GE, Duetschebank, etc., may now do. The prices of its paper could then reflect market assessments of its performance. You want transparency and accountability?
    And of course, the HIPC is a scam engineered by the Bank and the Fund on the G7 taxpayers — check it out for conflicts of interest.

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