A fresh start for the Bank?

The new World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, took up the post on July 1. Unanimously selected by the board of governors last week, he succeeds Paul Wolfowitz who resigned following a corporate governance scandal.

by World Bank
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

Zoellick's main challenge will be to find $36 billion to replenish the International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the bank responsible for offering preferential rate loans to low-income countries.

But the new president must also rally his staff behind him following the mutiny against Wolfowitz. In his first press intervention, Zoellick said he would reach out to the bank's 10,000 employees and tap into their "perspectives and experience".

The board of directors of the World Bank seemed confident he was up to the job and said in a statement: "Mr Zoellick brings to the Bank presidency strong leadership and managerial qualities as well as a proven track record in international affairs and the drive required to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the bank."

Many of the bank's employees criticised Wolfowitz for tarnishing the bank's reputation and casting a shadow on the work that the institution was doing on poverty alleviation. Wolfowitz arranged a pay and promotion package for his then girlfriend Shaha Riza and was found guilty of concealing the pay deal from bank officials by an internal investigation.

"Zoellick must begin a series of reforms in his first 100 days to create a new deal between the bank and the world's poor. We can't continue with business as usual," commented Jeremy Hobbs, the executive director of Oxfam International.

Zoellick currently is vice-chairman, international, at Goldman Sachs Group, with a background in international affairs, trade in particular - he was the US negotiator of the Doha round from 2001 to 2005. Before that he was briefly deputy secretary of state under Condoleeza Rice, and in the 1990s was executive vice-president and assistant to the chairman at US mortgage corporation Fannie Mae.

He is regarded as a good negotiator and was the only nominee for the World Bank's top job, despite calls for a more open and competitive process for choosing the Bank's chief as opposed to the traditional White House US nomination.

Source: World Bank statement 2006/481/EXT

Zoellick confirmed as World Bank chief
Richard Adams
The Guardian, Monday 25 June 2007

Review by Emilie Filou

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