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This Week in World Bank History: December 15 – 21

December 15, 2002 – A presentation of historical events by the World Bank Group Archives, Information Solutions Group (ISG).

Christmas Gifts for Charity. Bank staff gather with donated gifts to be given to charities in the Washington area, 1963
December 18, 1946—"The Executive Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced today that on the departure of Mr. Eugene Meyer, who has resigned as the President of the Bank effective today, the Vice President, Mr. Harold D. Smith has tendered his resignation to the Board, but at the request of the Board he has consented to remain as Vice President until the new President takes over." World Bank Press Release Unfortunately, Smith died after President Eugene Meyer resigned, but before the new president (John J. McCloy) was appointed. The Bank was without an executive officer for three months, less than one year after its founding.

December 21, 1948—Mr. E.F. Dunstan resigns as Marketing Director, a position he held since prior to April 1947. Mr. Eugene Black, Executive Director for the United States, supervised the Bank’s borrowing operations and was in charge of the New York office.

Christmas cheer, 1953
December 15, 1954—In the first transaction of its kind, the Kingdom of Belgium borrows $50 million in a combined transaction in which Belgium offered $30 million in bonds and borrowed $20 million from the World Bank. The proceeds were to fund development projects including improvements to the Port of Antwerp and modernization of the canal system in Belgium.

December 15, 1955—Egypt becomes the first country in the Middle East to complete the action required for membership in the International Finance Corporation. Egypt became the fifth country to complete membership action, following Canada, Iceland, the United States, and Ecuador. The Articles of Agreement were signed on behalf of Egypt by Dr. Albert Mansour, Alternate Governor. Dr. Abdel Moneim El Kassouni, the Finance Minister of Egypt, also attended the ceremony.

A table for five at the 1953 Bank Staff Christmas party

December 17, 1955—Bank President Eugene Black, British Ambassador Sir Roger Makins, U.S. Acting Secretary of State Herbert Hoover, Jr., and Egyptian Finance Minister Mr. Abdel Moneim El Kaissouni meet in Washington to discuss possible assistance in the execution of the High Aswan Dam project. "The United States and British Governments assured Mr. Kaissouni of their support in this project, which would be of inestimable importance in the development of the Egyptian economy and in the improvement of the welfare of the Egyptian people. Further, assurance has been given to Mr. Kaissouni that the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom would, subject to legislative authority, be prepared to consider sympathetically in the light of then existing circumstances further support toward financing the later stages to supplement World Bank financing." (U.S. Department of State Press Release)

December 19, 1956—IFC Articles of Agreement are signed by Turkey, which becomes the 38th member of IFC.

Bank staff greet each other at the 1953 Christmas party
December 19, 1959—President Black announces that three influential bankers will visit India and Pakistan to study the economic conditions and to acquaint themselves with the current and planned development programs in the two countries. President Eugene Black was convinced of the need for wider understanding in the industrially developed countries of the problems confronting the less developed areas of the world, and believed that visits by prominent members of the business and financial communities of the industrial countries could make an important contribution to that end. Sir Oliver Franks of Lloyds Bank, Dr. Hermann Abs of Deutsche Bank, and Mr. Joseph M. Dodge of the Detroit Bank and Trust Company agreed, at the Bank’s instigation, to undertake the visit. The "Three Wise Men" began their visit in January 1964, and issued their report in the form of a letter to President Eugene Black. The report was subsequently published by the Bank as a means of contributing to the public discussion of the problems of economic development.
Mr. And Mrs. Black and Mr. And Mrs. Garner greet staff at the 1954 Christmas Party

December 21, 1961—IBRD Articles of Agreement are signed by Cyprus, which becomes the 74th member of the Bank.

December 21, 1962—The Bank announces its first funding for Morocco: Loan 0329 – Banque Nationale de Developpement Economique Project.

December 17, 1963—The Bank announces its plan to send general economic survey mission to Morocco in February 1964, headed by J. W. Beyen, to make a general survey of the potentialities of the Moroccan economy.

December 18, 1963—President George D. Woods addresses the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in New York. He described the "outstanding event of this year" as "the decision, now being acted on by member governments, to carry on the work of the International Development Association, and on an increased scale. When IDA was first established, the contributing nations subscribed about $750 million to its resources…As of today, 17 Part I countries…have indicated their intentions of contributing another $750 million." Woods was referring to the first replenishment of IDA resources, which became effective in 1964.

Mr. And Mrs. Cox meet Mr. And Mrs. Vaughn, Christmas 1957
December 19, 1963—The Bank announces its first funding for Tanzania: Credit 0045 – School Construction Equipment Project.

December 19, 1963—The United Nations Special Fund, the Government of Paraguay and the Bank agree to a survey for constructing roads in southern Paraguay to open up virgin land suitable for settlement and agricultural development. The Bank served as Executing Agency for the survey, and disbursed the funds made available by the Special Fund.

December 15, 1965—Johns Hopkins Press publishes Development Planning – Lessons of Experience by Albert Waterston. The book demonstrated when, how, and why national planning was successful, and provided relevant lessons for countries working on comprehensive development plans. The book was 706 pages in length and was available at bookstores for $10.75.

The entertainment – 1964 Christmas party
December 17, 1965—The Bank’s Articles of Agreement are amended to allow the Bank to make loans to the IFC of up to four times IFC’s unimpaired subscribed capital and surplus.

December 16, 1968—The Bank arranges private placement of DM 400 million ($100 million) with the Rheinische Girozentrale und Provinzialbank, Dusseldorf, in cooperation with other German bank. It was the Bank’s first savings bank issue.

December 17, 1971—For the first time, the Bank borrows from a commercial bank in North America. Treasurer Eugene H. Rotberg signed the agreement with the Bank of Montreal for a loan of Can$50 million, with a maturity of eight years.

December 15, 1972—IBRD Articles of Agreement are signed by Romania, which becomes the 122nd member of the Bank.

President and Mrs. Woods greet a kilted staff member at the 1967 Christmas party
December 21, 1973—The Bank and the Government of Norway sign an agreement indicating their intention to continue to cooperate in the financing of projects in developing countries. December 18, 1974—The Bank announces its largest single borrowing operation to date: a $750,000,000 placement of its bonds in Saudi Arabia.

December 16, 1975—The Special Project Preparation Facility is established to provide funding to borrowers for project preparation and institution building. The initial authorized capital was for $5 million.

December 15, 1977—The Bank approves its first loan entirely for rural water supply and waste disposal: Loan 1502 Rural Water Supply Project in Paraguay. The project provided basic sanitation services over a four-year period for 42 villages in the Central, Cordillera, and Paraguari departments. The project allowed for the construction of water supply systems to serve some 63,000 villages via household connections and standpipes; construction of individual waste disposal solutions to serve some 32,000 villagers; implementation of a community health education program; and implementation of technical assistance and training program.

Staff members, Christmas party, 1967

December 17, 1978—Philippines becomes the 73rd member of ICSID.

December 15, 1986—An agreement on the eighth Replenishment of IDA Resources is announced. Covering the years 1987 – 1989, pledges for $12.4 billion in development assistance were received from donor countries.

December 17, 1986—In order to help developing countries eliminate the worst aspects of absolute poverty by the year 2000, the Task Force on Poverty Alleviation is established to review the Bank’s poverty work and to propose new programs. In its report (1988, available in Imagebank), the Task Force recommended a package of significant changes in the Bank's operational approaches to poverty alleviation.

December 18, 1986—The Bank announces the membership of various task forces created to plan and implement the reorganization of the Bank. The reorganization is intended to make the Bank more flexible and effective in responding to the complex needs of its member nations. Edward V.K. Jaycox chaired the Steering Committee.

Dancing at the Christmas party, 1967

December 17, 1987—Appointment of Willi Wapenhans as Senior Vice President External Affairs and Administration.

December 19, 1988—The Bank issues World Debt Tables 1988-89. The publication concluded that the end of the debt crisis remained elusive, suggesting the need to rework the 1985 strategy for debt crisis. The report listed indications of a new consensus: a market-based menu of options becoming increasingly available; voluntary debt reductions; and improving relations between creditor and debtor. The report was focused primarily on highly indebted middle-income countries.

December 18, 1990—President Barber Conable issues a statement on the GATT negotiations. "I welcome recent moves to revive the GATT negotiations on trade liberalization. Many developing countries, already struggling with debt burdens, environmental crises and chronic poverty, have made difficult political and economic choices in their efforts to liberalize their trade regimes. Recognizing the potential gains from more open economies, they have demonstrated an increasing commitment to trade liberalization. It is a cruel irony that the industrial countries which dominate world trade have, so far, lacked the political will to conclude the negotiations positively…The trend toward protectionism will increase international tension and diminish prospects for world economic growth. I urge all GATT participants to reach agreement swiftly and decisively. Too much is at stake for the Uruguay Round to be allowed to end inconclusively."

More dancing at the Christmas party, 1967
December 15, 1991—World Bank establishes a Resident Mission in Managua, Nicaragua, headed by Mr. Ulrich Lachler.

December 16, 1991—The Bank authorizes the repurchase of its outstanding bonds by individually negotiated market transactions. The goal was to manage the Bank’s liabilities in order to reduce its funding costs. As of June 1991, the Bank had over $23 billion outstanding in medium and long term US dollar issues in both domestic and international markets.

December 15, 1992—Managing Director Ernest Stern announces the conclusion of the IDA-10 replenishment negotiations, held in Berne Switzerland. About $22 billion was made available for development projects. Donors indicated that IDA funding should be concentrated on the poorest and least creditworthy nations, and urged greater lending for social sector and poverty reduction programs.

December 15, 1992—President Lewis Preston addresses the World Resources Institute in Washington, saying that poverty is at the root of the world’s environmental and development problems. He reaffirmed the Bank’s focus on sustainable development, and pledged to follow up on promises made at the June 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

December 15, 1993—President Preston congratulates participants on the completion of the Uruguay Round of the GATT trade negotiations, saying that the completion of the negotiations will help developing nations reduce poverty, and will encourage the business community.

The SCIF Industrial plant in Casablanca was financed through the Bank’s loan to Morocco (1967 photo)
December 15, 1993—The Bank releases its World Debt Tables 1993-94, which indicate that private capital flows to developing countries exceeded those from official sources for the second straight year. Capital flows reached a record high level of $157 billion in 1992, and were expected to reach $177 billion in 1993. Unfortunately, most of the aid benefited middle-income countries, while aid to low-income countries remained the same or decreased.

December 17, 1993—The tenth replenishment of IDA resources becomes effective with a commitment authority of SDR 13 billion (equivalent to $18 billion) for 1993-1996.

December 15, 1995—President Jim Wolfensohn sent a memo to all staff, emphasizing that the organization is made up of one team, and forbidding the use of "higher level" and "support level" employment designations.

Cyprus signs the IBRD Articles of Agreement, 1961
December 21, 1995—Donor governments and agencies meeting in Brussels agree to support the reconstruction of Bosnia. Fifty governments and 27 organizations pledged $500 million to finance the priority needs for the first three months of 1996. The donor meeting was co-chaired by the Bank and the European Commission.

December 20, 1996—The Bank announces the creation of three new networks: Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (ESSD), Finance, Private Sector and Infrastructure (FPSI), and Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM).

December 16, 1997—IBRD, IFC, IDA and MIGA Articles of Agreement are signed by Palau, which becomes the 181st member of IBRD, the 173rd member of IFC, the 160th member of IFC, and the 142nd member of MIGA.

The textile factory Texnord in Fes was financed through the Bank’s loan to Morocco (1967 photo)
December 16, 1997—MIGA Articles of Agreement are signed by Austria, which becomes the 143rd member of MIGA. December 17, 1997Annual Review of Development Effectiveness and the Annual Report on Portfolio Performance are released, showing some improvement in project performance, and calling for continued attention to high priority problem areas, improving project supervision, monitoring and evaluation, and enhancing the quality of proposed projects.

December 18, 1997—The Bank approves a $200 million loan to Poland for Emergency Flood Recovery. The loan restored basic infrastructure in areas affected by the flood, repaired flood protection infrastructure, and improved institutional capacity for better flood management.

December 19, 1997—The Global Environment Facility announces a US$4.57 million grant to support Sri Lanka's efforts to conserve medicinal plant populations, their habitats, and their sustainable use. The Sri Lanka Conservation of Medicinal Plants Project is the first of its kind approved by the World Bank.

The COFITEX textile company was expanded and modernized through the Bank’s loan to Morocco (1967 photo)
December 18, 1998—"In the last week or so, we have experienced delays in outbound e-mail and we have also received complaints from staff on mission doing Notes replication. Both of these problems have been caused by increased holiday greeting messages with heavy use of graphics and is some cases animation. While these types of messages are well intentioned, their implications and costs may not be understood. In addition to the delay in outbound e-mail, staff on mission replicating from hotels pay in both time and money and we also use more disk storage which increases costs. We rely on the good judgment of all staff to use the Bank’s electronic network appropriately. Happy Holidays!" KIOSK announcement

December 21, 1998—The Bank’s Inspection Panel agrees that complaints made against the India Ecodevelopment Project are justified, and instructed the Bank management to work with the government to address the complaints.

December 21, 1998—The World Bank publishes its proposed Environmental Strategy for the Energy Sector on the external web, and asks for comments from external stakeholders.

The Hotel Rif in Tangier was financed through the Bank’s loan to Morocco (1967 photo)
December 17, 1999—More than fifty governments and international aid agencies meet in Tokyo and pledge $520 million in grant funding over the next three years to rebuild East Timor and to assist in its transition to independence. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank agreed to administer a trust fund to assist in the preparation, appraisal, and supervision of projects.

 December 17, 1999—The Bank and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) launch the Cities Without Slums initiative. The initiative aimed to improve the living conditions of people living in slums throughout the world. The initiative was a product of the Cities Alliance, a coalition of cities and their development partners committed to making improvements in the living conditions of the urban poor. Former South African President Nelson Mandela agreed to serve as the patron of the Cities Without Slums movement.

The Laprophan pharmaceutical company in Casablanca was financed through the Bank’s loan to Morocco (1967 photo)

December 20, 1999—The Government of the Netherlands commits $70 Million to help finance the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

December 21, 1999—President Wolfensohn praised the British Government’s action in announcing that the Government would cancel all debts owed by heavily indebted poor countries.

December 15, 2000—The Bank approves a comprehensive debt reduction package for Guinea-Bissau under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The package provided debt relief amounting to US$790 million, or $417 million in net present value terms.

December 15, 2000—President Wolfensohn announces that Vice President Richard Stern has announced his retirement after serving in the Bank for thirty years. Stern had served in East Africa country programs department, and was Division Chief for Indonesia in 1978. He then moved to the Industry Department, and was selected to lead the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) in 1991. He became Director of the Industry and Energy Department in 1993, where he served until 1998 when he was appointed to Vice President for Human Resources. Kathy Sierra was appointed as Vice President Human Resources.

A new IDA-financed hostel at the Jangwani secondary school for girls in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (1969 photo)
December 20, 2000—The Bank approves a comprehensive debt reduction package for Niger, Sao Tome and Principe under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The package provided debt relief to Niger amounting to US$302 million and US$46 million to Sao Tome and Principe.

December 21, 2000—The Bank approves a comprehensive debt reduction package for Malawi and Nicaragua under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The package provided debt relief for Malawi amounting to US$643 million in net present value—about $1 billion in debt service over the coming years. The amount of total debt service relief for Nicaragua was $4.5b, or $3.3b in net present value terms.

Students at the new Tanga secondary school, Tanzania

December 22, 2000—The Bank approves a comprehensive debt reduction package for Rwanda, Guinea, and Madagascar under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The package provided debt relief for Rwanda amounting to US$452m in net present value – about $810m in debt service over the coming years. The amount of total debt service relief for Guinea was $800m, or $545m in net present value terms. The amount of total debt service relief for Madagascar was $1.5b, or $800m in net present value terms.

December 15, 2001—Managing Director Sven Sandstrom retires from the Bank.

Students in the laboratory at the Minaki secondary school, Tanzania
December 17, 2001—GSD Security announces that armed guards will be positioned at the major entrances of Bank Group-owned headquarters buildings. GSD stated that there is no information with regard to threats or any indication that the Bank Group or our staff are targets of terrorist activity, but that the posting of guards is part of the long term strengthening of the Bank’s security systems.

December 20, 2001—New Thematic and Sector Codes are announced by Operations Policy and Country Services, Strategy and Resource Management, and Information Solutions Network. The new codes were used for analyzing and reporting activities in investment and adjustment operations, analytic and advisory, research and client training activities, internal orders, and ongoing activities.

Without Records there is no History. Courtesy of ISG’s World Bank Group Archives.



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