Click here for search results
Online Media Briefing Cntr
Embargoed news for accredited journalists only.
Login / Register

World Bank Group President, Robert B. Zoellick, Opening Press Briefing at the WB-IMF Annual Meetings 2007

Robert B.Zoellick
Washington, D.C.
October 18, 2007

P R O C E E D I N G S

 

MR. HANLON:   Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome, and thank you very much for joining us for this news conference this morning.

 

President Zoellick will begin with opening remarks and then be pleased to take your questions.

 

I will ask you to please identify yourself and the name of you organization, and if you could limit it to one question so we can get around the room, that would be very helpful.  And also just to check, kindly make sure your cell phones are turned off if possible.

 

Mr. Zoellick?

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   Thank you, Carl.

 

Thanks to all of you for joining us today.

 

As you know, I have been at the World Bank Group a little over three months, and I believe we have been able to calm some of the waters while starting to navigate a course ahead.

 

I was very pleased that, with the support of our Board, we were able early on to take some actions with a package that both sets some stretch goals for the institution but also emphasized the unity of the World Bank Group, and in particular this was first the contribution that we made or our pledge of $3.5 billion to IDA, the fund for the poorest, which is over twice as large as the $1.5 billion that the Bank had pledged to IDA14; to simplify and cut the IBRD loan rates and fees for those borrowers, of particular interest to the middle-income countries, but this is just a first step, because we have a lot to do to make our services faster, better and cheaper; an IFC growth strategy which will enable us to help strengthen the role of the private sector in the developing world; and fourth, the idea of trying to get IFC to work more actively in the IDA countries and develop partnerships there, which is something that I have asked Lars Thunell, the head of IFC, and Vincenzo La Via, our Chief Financial Officer who supervises IDA, to help us drive forward.

 

In the area of governance and anti-corruption, we received the very helpful report from Paul Volcker and his panel, and we have put that on the Web and are seeking comments; we have discussed it with our Board, and we have an internal working group that is going through each of the recommendations so we can try to proceed with that before the end of the year, and we have combined it with some other actions like our Stolen Asset Recovery or StAR Initiative, which is an important way of emphasizing the role that developed and developing countries can play in that case by trying to recover stolen assets.

 

We have also appointed a new Managing Director,  Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who I was very pleased agreed to return to the Bank.  She had been at the Bank for some 21 years before leaving to become a very successful and world-recognized Finance Minister from Nigeria .  And as part of her appointment, we took a step to better align the structure of the institution with the strategy, because the regional units that Ngozi will supervise generally have a focus on some of the poorest.  The ones that Juan Jose Daboub will focus on are generally with the middle-income countries--of course, Regions have exceptions--and then, Graeme Wheeler will supervise the third unit which emphasizes the knowledge and learning agenda.

 

Then, last week, as all of you know, I used the opportunity of the 100 days to put forward a speech that set out a vision of an inclusive and sustainable globalization and outlined six strategic themes.

           

So my hope is for these meetings that we'll seek to accomplish the following. 

 

First, the strategic themes set a framework with enough specificity to give people something to grasp the direction we're seeking, but also it is general enough that we can get feedback and refinements and have a sense of how to approach this.  So, in a number of sessions that I'll be having, including one with Nancy Birdsall's Center in the early afternoon, I'll be talking about these issues and then hoping to get people's input, because this has to be an inclusive and building process.  And that's what I'll be discussing with the Development Committee, the G-7 Ministers, the G-24 Ministers and others.

 

Second, I hope to stress the importance of IDA15.  We are in a much stronger position than we were some three months ago because of the record contribution that we'll be making from World Bank resources of $3.5 billion, but also, it fits well with the strategic focus, because if you look at how we will use the IDA resources, it is critical for the first strategic theme, that of helping the poorest countries which are heavily reliant on IDA funding; it is fundamental for the second in dealing with post-conflict states and states that are facing breakdown, and IDA is a particularly important device because it can move faster and more quickly and with greater flexibility.

 

Third, to make headway on the global public goods and particularly climate change with a number of developing countries, we need to integrate adaptation and mitigation strategies with development strategies, and again, IDA funding will be very important to that.

 

And fourth, the ongoing success of IDA depends on having rigorous effectiveness and results orientation, which will bring us to the knowledge agenda.

 

So it fits well with the strategic directions, and even in the past couple days, I have started to talk with some Ministers about that.

 

Another topic that I think we'll get into in greater depth at these meetings is the importance of clean energy and the global climate change agenda.  That's another one of the key topics of the Development Committee agenda.  And I think there will also be attention because of the excellent report that Francois Bourguignon and his team have put forward, the World Development Report on Agriculture, on things that we can try to do to strengthen that.

           

There was a striking statistic that I saw in their research which was that the benefit of growth in the agricultural sector in developing countries had four times the effect of reducing poverty for those under $1 a day than growth in other sectors.  And from discussions that I've had with African leaders in particular, I think there is a new opportunity here to work with them to really improve the productivity of African agriculture to try to address some of the poverty issues.

 

One last point, and that is since I am still new to this, I hope to use these meetings to listen and learn from people.  It gives me an ample opportunity--in fact, sometimes more than ample if you look at the schedule--to be able to talk to people, but it helps to hear face-to-face from Ministers and others about the challenges that they have.  So I have started to do that already this week, and that runs a little bit into next week, but it helps me refine some of these ideas as it applies to particular countries.

 

So, the floor is open.

 

MR. HANLON:   Great.

 

We'll take your questions, please.

 

The gentleman in the front row.

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   And if we could ask people to give their name and where they are from.

 

QUESTION:   Hi.  My name is Martin. I am from the Argentine newspaper, La Nación.

 

I would like to ask you if you don't think that the traditional policies menu that came from Washington multilateral institutions, like fiscal spending cuts or increasing interest rates, has had a huge social cost in developing countries like Argentina , and it is also against your idea of an inclusive development policy.

 

Thank you.

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   Well, most of that question is really more directed at the IMF's agenda, because they focus on the macroeconomic issues.  But you'll see that the core theme of the speech I gave and the vision that I am setting forth is that we need to help countries help themselves build strategies of growth.  We also need to make sure they have the fundamentals in place with basic social development, and that's the agenda of the Millennium Development Goals.  But what we have seen in much of the world is that even with growth and the benefit of globalization removing some 300 million people out of poverty, there are challenges of inclusiveness and sustainability, and different countries will approach that in different ways.  But part of the agenda that I have sought to outline is to recognize that and see how the Bank can be supportive for countries as they want to address those issues.

 

I think one core issue is that no one formula fits each circumstance; it has to be customized.  And one of the approaches that the Bank has developed over the years based on the experience is the critical need for national ownership.  If countries don't buy in and own the development projects, the chances of success are quite modest, if at all.  So that's where the partnership that we develop with each country is very significant.

 

Having said that, one of the strengths of the Bank is that we have a global perspective, and we bring experience from different countries.  So I was talking with a Minister, for example, from an Arab country yesterday that was concerned about the effect of high oil prices and energy prices on the poor--this was not an oil-producing country--and we were talking about some of the cash transfer policies they were developing, and I was able to reference the conditional cash transfer policies that have worked so well in Brazil and in Mexico and others.  And I think we'll be producing a study later this year looking at the comparative experience of ten different countries.

 

So it is a good example of how we need to apply global experience but with local customization.

 

MR. HANLON:   Teresa?

 

QUESTION:   Teresa Bouza, with EFE News Services.

 

The Brazilian President this week said during a visit to Africa that there is no place for the developing nations in the World Bank and the IMF, and he called on the world's developing nations to create new global institutions to replace the World Bank and the IMF.

 

I wonder what your response is to that.

 

Thank you.

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   Well, as I think my speech suggests and other questions have, there is a lot to learn from past experience about how these institutions can improve.  I am pleased that--I know that President Lula was in Africa .  I talked with him before I took the post in Brasilia about some of the ideas that he and others have.  We have tried to work with the Brazilian representatives.  I'll be seeing the Finance Minister, who I think wants to talk about some ideas for infrastructure development in South America .

 

But I am pleased that, based on whatever experience or adjustments, the African countries that I know are very eager to work with us.  I have a long list of them wanting to meet with me to talk about how we can help them achieve the Millennium Development Goals as well as create the infrastructure for growth.

 

MR. HANLON:   Next question, please.

The gentleman from TASS.

 

QUESTION:   Thank you, Carl, and congratulations, Mr. President, on your first Annual Meeting.

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   It's not over yet.

 

QUESTION:   It's the beginning.

 

I am looking at the regional press release from the ECA Region here, and it says that the Bank is trying to help some countries such as Russia to make a transition from being clients to being donors.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about what is being done in that regard?

 

Thank you.

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   I am meeting Finance Minister Kudrin, and I think we actually have an event planned because Russia is, in addition to considering a contribution to IDA, putting together some specific efforts--as I recall, one of them might deal with malaria--with Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

So it is a good example of, again, one of the points that I stressed in the speech and which I'll talk about in my Annual Meetings speech about how the Bank's partnership needs to recognize countries at different stages of growth and the development process, but particularly for some of the larger countries, like Russia, whose incomes have been improving in recent years, we would like to try to strengthen partnerships with them.  And some of it can be aid, but some of it might be based on experience.  So the question on Brazil , I talked with President Lula about Brazil 's interest in terms of agricultural research development in Africa .  China has also had an incredible growth experience, so there are lessons to be learned from that.

 

So it is part of the notion that I have for this institution as a multilateral institution, as an institution in the world economy, to try to gain support from a broader array of partners but also learn from their experience.

 

MR. HANLON:   Okay, let's mix it around a little--at the far back of the room, please.

 

QUESTION:   Thank you, Mr. President.

 

My name is Tom Razin [ph.], and I work for a business paper in Addis Ababa .

 

I am more interested to learn about the Bank's position on good governance, because for too long, the Bank used to shy away from issues that were considered to be a bit intervening in sovereign issues of countries.

 

One of your predecessors, Mr. Wolfensohn, changed that by bringing corruption at the topmost agenda of the Bank, and I believe that you are more interested in good governance, particularly in Third World countries.

 

How are you going to measure it, and is there any way that the Bank's assistance to Third World countries will be attached to a measure of quality governance in terms of ensuring democracy, rule of law, and fair and free elections, and how are you going to measure those things?

 

Thank you.

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   Well, not only from the experience at the Bank but in the development field in general, there is an increasing recognition of the criticality of good governance policies and fighting corruption.  So this goes to issues such as transparency, involving the public in the development discussion, rule of law issues and fairness topics; and the issues of governance also relate to the broader agenda of having inclusive growth.

 

Now, there are different dimensions of this, and our Board just acted on a Governance and Anti-Corruption Strategy that we will now turn to execute, and my view is they really have to run throughout the full range of Bank activities.  Let me give you an example that people may not at first think about as an anti-corruption effort.

 

We produce this Doing Business Report.  The Doing Business Report is not only very helpful for countries trying to figure out how to draw businesses and build entrepreneurial activity, but excess regulation and licensing is often the door to corruption, because it gives bureaucrats an opportunity to control the opportunities for business people trying to launch business.  So if you need a special license not only to start the business but for a location or other things, the next thing you know, this creates an opportunity for someone in a government bureaucracy to try to get some money on the side.

 

So good business practices should also create an environment to try to fight corruption.

 

There is a lot of focus, and properly so, on the role of our internal investigatory unit and how we follow through on that, but the challenge is much deeper than that.  We have to build the notion of integrity into our very project development.  So one of the recommendations of the Volcker Report that I think is a particularly good one is that the investigations come after a problem has started—So what can we do on the preventive side-- what lessons can we learn from our investigations to build those into projects?  So that is part of our Governance and Anti-Corruption Strategy going forward.

 

So you'll see in most of my remarks that even taking the issue of post-conflict states, one of the lessons that one has learned that may be a little counter-intuitive is that sometimes people assume you need to have a rush of aid.  But if you put aid in before you have built basic capacity in a country that has gone through civil strife and violence, you create an environment where corruption and stealing become more likely.  So the first effort is actually to build the basic capacity to deal with these issues.

 

So my concept of this is that it is an issue that really has to run through everything that we do.  It's not something that is just separate on the side as a check.  And I see it as a positive as well as a negative, the positive being that it will strengthen the performance of countries if we can encourage them with governance and anti-corruption.

 

And I'll come back to this point--in some ways, it has one of the aspects of open markets and trade.  When you break down barriers to competition, the people who often feel most threatened are those who are the oligarchs, the power, that have the particular positions.  So if you open up opportunities, particularly for disenfranchised groups--indigenous peoples, women, others in a society--and create more competition, you not only help inclusiveness, but you also help fight the issues of benefits for a favored few.

 

MR. HANLON:   Chris Swann, in the fourth row back, please.

 

QUESTION:   Hi.  Chris Swann, Bloomberg News.

 

I read that you are considering taking donations for IDA from private companies.  I wonder if you can explain how this came about and what the incentive might be for the private companies and whether this could be extended.

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   This is at an early stage, Chris.

 

The encouraging development was that a couple of companies approached us about the possibility, and we think it is a very good one, because it is a good statement of confidence in what we are doing, but it also could help us broaden the base of support for the funding of the poorest, the 81 poorest countries in the world.

 

So we have had some discussions with those countries, but we also have to work this through our Board processes--I don't see any particular problem, but until we get through that, we can't really take the steps with the companies.

 

I will just say that since the story came out, I have received a lot of emails from people I know in the private sector, saying this would be a great thing, and we'd like to try to figure out how to help.  So if we're able to move it forward, this could offer us an opportunity to serve another one of the strategic directions I'd like to encourage, which is how to make sure we draw on the private sector in this.

 

But I want to broaden this even a step further, which is that I don't see our involvement as just being limited to private companies.  I mentioned on a couple of occasions the very innovative work that the Gates Foundation has done, and they have not only brought resources, but they have frankly brought some very impressive ideas.  For example, we have a project with them in terms of how to use telephone technology to try to expand access to financial services in poor areas, and I think there's a project with Vodafone in Kenya on this.

 

So I think part of the need for the Bank is to see itself as part of a broader network.  Sometimes people talk about this in architectural terms.  I tend to see it in network terms and how we can play a catalytic role, how we can apply the knowledge and experience, how we can support others, whether they be UN agencies or foundations or others.

 

So it has only been 100 days, but one of the things that I'd like to try to do, for example, is to interconnect some of these points we have discussed.  I'd like to work with foundations to help build civil society groups in some of the developing countries so that if we build more open governance processes, they can play a role in the development side.

 

So that fits this network notion a little bit, and this is just one part of it.

 

MR. HANLON:   TV Global in the front row, please.

 

QUESTION:   I would like to go back to the question about President Lula to ask you first if you are surprised that the Brazilian President should show an interest in an alternative institution for emerging countries.  And since emerging countries, as  was said here yesterday, are kind of driving the growth of the economy at the moment, if they start showing interest in institutions like Banco Sur or others, will the World Bank change itself, change its products?

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   Well, obviously, I think the whole thrust of what I have been trying to set forth as a strategy is that our role should not just be with developed countries and the poorest countries, but there is a critical role for many of the countries in between, and indeed, I see us as trying to develop stronger partnerships with those countries in part to serve them, because many of them have very large challenges.  I have made the point that China, India and middle-income borrowers from the IBRD still represent 70 percent of the poor, those living on under $2 a day.

 

So, if we are going to really get at the issues of the poor, we need to develop partnerships with these countries.  Similarly, if we are going to get at issues like energy and the environment, whether it be from the Brazilian interest in biofuels, or the Chinese interest in having low-carbon growth strategies, or President Yudhoyono of Indonesia's effort to try to do this and sponsor the Bali conference, we need to strengthen our partnership.

 

Part of our partnership is to work with countries as clients and understand what they need, and what is changing and depends a lot on the middle-income countries -some may need more knowledge services, some help on building financial markets, some on how they have lending connected with the knowledge services.  So I hope we can broaden the choice so that people--some may get it from fees, some may get it from loans packaged with knowledge, some may have it through services such as asset management--some of these have been discussed in the press in recent days.

 

So I would like to multiply the range of activities that we could provide as partners with countries and also, as I have said, benefit from some of their experience in terms of development and growth.  In the case of Brazil, as I mentioned in the speech and might have mentioned here already, the conditional cash transfer program, which we helped develop with Brazil, I think is a good model for that.  It has also been done in Mexico and elsewhere.

 

So, sovereign countries have their choices, and I think our role is to try to develop the partnership and be a more valued player with them.  And as I have said, in my dealings with the Brazilian authorities, they have expressed an interest in this.  Just to give you one further area, we have had some discussions with some of the subnational authorities, some of the states in Brazil, and some of them are thinking of some very innovative programs where, within the fiscal constraints that Brazil has established, we would provide some financing with some programmatic services to some of the Brazilian states.

 

We do this in China with some of the provinces, and I think particularly for some of the larger countries that have provincial or state systems, some central governments might find it useful to have the Bank play a role to try to help, whether it be fiscal management or other services.  So it varies enormously by country.

 

And also, as you know, President Lula was on his way to South Africa where he was meeting with the South Africans and the Indians as well, and he is in a context where they are also looking at the Doha negotiations, and as I have said, that's another international body, the WTO, where I think it's important for developed, mid-level developing, and poorest to come together to move forward that trade round.

 

MR. HANLON:   In the far corner, please--Dorothee.

 

QUESTION:   I am Dorothee Berendes of DB Media Productions.  Thank you very much.

 

I would like to know the following.  Of all the loans, grants, and equity investments the Bank has made in the last fiscal year ending the 30th of June, Africa only received 22 percent; nevertheless, I am very happy that IDA will receive more funding.  So what would be the best-case scenario for you?  You mentioned the telecommunications sector.  Where would you like to see more investment and specific projects in Sub-Saharan Africa?

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   Well, first--I think we are on the path of doing this, but I certainly want to expedite it and strengthen it--I would like us to be able to use the full range of tools we have.  So one reason I am focused very heavily on IDA is that that is our principal tool for many of the Sub-Saharan African countries, and many of the governments have been helpful in terms of trying to convince the developed countries of the benefit of that.

 

Within IDA, there are some things that I hope we can adjust that will help us customize.  Starting in IDA13, we started to set aside money for regional projects.  In my visits to Africa, this is a point that is invariably stressed, because if you are going to create successful economic integration, you have to have projects that deal with roads, ports, other systems that build regional integration.  We are doing some now with some of the waterways.  And frankly, it also has a benefit in getting some of the countries to cooperate more effectively.

 

So one of the items in IDA15 is that I'd like to see if we can expand that share that goes to regional projects.

 

Another aspect on the IDA agenda is the money that we make available and how we make it available to post-conflict states, and this is a problem not only for the states themselves but, as you know, to their neighbors.  So you have countries that are starting to perform very well, but they run the risk of destabilization and refugees and other topics.

 

Then, secondly, we do have some middle-income countries, and it is very important that those--the Botswanas and the South Africas and others--not lose the benefit of Bank services however they want to have those services.

 

I met with President Mogae of Botswana not long ago, and here, we are trying to in a sense use our expertise to help them develop a technology university and put together the contracts for that and the bidding process.

 

In the case of South Africa, which has certainly been a leader in its own right, Trevor Manuel told me how our World Bank Institute with a very small sum of money helped build transparent budget systems, going back to this point about good governance issues.

 

IFC is expanding its business activities, and I thought they might have been up to 37 percent or so in Sub-Saharan  Africa, if I recall, but we can check.  And part of the package that we brought through the Board was also to create a micro equity fund of $100 million for IDA countries with a key focus on Africa, and another $100 million fund for infrastructure for IDA countries.

 

The key aspect of this is that in many African countries where infrastructure is fundamental, if you can put together a project, at least in the current environment, you can often get funding, but there is a problem of putting together the project and getting the specifications and getting it ready for the financial markets.  So these funds are really designed not just to provide money but again to try to help build those sectors.

 

IFC has been extremely innovative in other areas.  One that I have referenced, because from my background, I found it particularly appealing, is that you can try to  open markets for African products for trade, but in many countries, you need trade finance, you need some short-term money to be able to pay for the goods that you are bringing in our out. 

 

We had a very small time at IFC that two years ago started this project, and our export-import finance is now up to $1.33 billion, and it is almost $2 billion of trade.  But the most important thing is not the trade alone.  We are working with some 40 or 50 small financial institutions and developing the capability for them to do export-import finance, connecting them to money center banks. 

 

The reason why this is important is that, again, many people think that our role is just the traditional World Bank of the sixties, of project finance and others.  Our real role is helping to create the markets, the intermediation, the institutions, so these things go on long beyond us.

 

To give you another one, the IFC has a project that is trying to deal with expanding energy sources for electricity and lighting throughout Africa in a way that takes advantage of low-carbon strategies. 

 

Health care--this is really intriguing to me--it's another project that we did with the Gates Foundation.  We have analyzed the African health care sector, and it turns out that over 50 percent of it is provided by private sector services.  So on the IBRD side, we'll work with countries to have the right health care systems and the right government role, but we are putting together a substantial financial fund to try to help develop some of those.

 

So this is the role of IFC with the private sector with innovation, combined with some of the other things that we are doing.  I have already mentioned the agriculture sector.

 

So in brief--with a continent as diverse as Sub-Saharan Africa, one always has to be careful about generalizations--but as I have mentioned in the speech, there are 17 countries that have had on average 5.5 percent growth over 10 years.  That's pretty darn good.  So, some of the Africans have referred to these as the "African cheetahs," like the "Asian tigers."  And for those countries, we need to continue to help with the Millennium Development Goals, because if you don't have children living, kids going to school, and mothers' health, you are going to have problems in the future.  But they also want energy, infrastructure, and regional integration, so there is a growth agenda there.

 

Then, there are another eight countries that have been growing at 7.4 percent, but it's through oil, and for them, it's really the capacity-building agenda--how do we help them and the good governance agenda and make sure of the resources.

 

Then, the third category is the one that we're talking about with post-conflict states.

 

So I know that many people look at the problems of Africa, and they just see the constant tribulations.  There are difficulties, but there is also some great possibility, and I'd like the Bank over the next few years to really help jump-start some of that.

 

MR. HANLON:   Manelise Dubasi, South African Broadcasting.

 

QUESTION:   Perhaps, Mr. President, I will yield to the lady next to me, because I wanted to ask you about the time frames, because what President Lula said is something which is rife in Africa--people are getting frustrated with the World Bank and the IMF.  There is good language coming out of here and very well-written papers, but what is lacking is action.

 

I was going to ask you if you have time frames as to how or when you want to achieve these things.  For instance, the whole issue of climate change, which is affecting agriculture in that Region very negatively--do you have time frames that, at least by the time we arrive in Bali in December, you will have consensus as to how you will go about resolving this matter?

 

And at the bottom of this thing is transformation of the Bank itself and the IMF.  Do you have time frames that at least in two years' time, you want us to have consensus that at least the U.S. is no longer going to appoint the President of the Bank, for instance, and that the right person--I am not saying you are the wrong person--but the right person will be appointed.

 

MR. HANLON:   Okay.  I think we got a number of questions in there.

 

QUESTION:   Thank you.

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   Well, by nature, I'm an impatient person, so I like to move things quickly, but I think the time frames really depend on each of the items you are talking about.  So I was leased with within the first 100 days, we more than doubled the funding to IDA, so that's one that has already been accomplished, and cut the loan rates.  By the end of the year, I hope we'll have our IDA contributions.

 

I sense that on the issue of climate change, the Board and the countries are supportive of some of the items that I have started to discuss in recent days, but  I'll have a better sense after these meetings from some of the reactions we get to Ministers.

 

We are a shareholder-owned institution, so part of the challenge that we have is bringing along the decisionmakers through our Board with these items, and all I can suggest is that so far, I have found a responsiveness to the points that I have been discussing. But that's one of the reasons we have these Annual Meetings, so I can set these things out and try to get refinements, suggestions, and others.

 

But there is one other part, and that is that our pace depends on the country's pace.  We can't do it for countries, so part of the question really depends on each individual country and what it wants to try to accomplish in terms of its own national plan.  And there, we can act as an advisor, we can act as a support, we can offer the possibilities, but ultimately, these are up to the countries themselves.

 

MR. HANLON:   Okay.  We have time for a couple more.

 

The lady from the Mexican press, please.

           

QUESTION:   Hi.  Alicia Salgado from El Financiero Newspaper in Mexico.

           

I just want to ask about the Middle-Income Countries Strategy if you can talk about the fund in local bonds and how it can be fit with PPP projects--public-private partnership projects--and local and subnational governments.

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   Okay.  I think--I was a bit distracted--I think you've got two slightly different points, but let me cover each of them.

 

First, the bond project is this GEMLOC project, which again shows some of the incredible creativity at the Bank.  And it is useful to understand its components because it gives you a sense of the direction I think this institution can go.

 

First, it is a recognition that to really help developing countries, it would be useful to help them develop their own local securities markets.  So this goes to the point I made before that it's not just us financing, but it is developing the securities markets.

 

Many countries can borrow in dollars or euro or yen or other developed country currencies, but they have had a hard time developing their local currency bond market in their local currency.  So the first thing that this project does is that we will work with an outside asset manager to try to put together a fund--I think about $5 [billion] was the target--to invest in the domestic currencies.  But second, whenever you develop a new investment class like this, it's very important to have some benchmark.  So we're going to also work with outsiders to develop an index.  And if you look at most market developments over time, you can see how vital it is to have, so you have the Dow Index, you have the FTCSE, the Times Index--so this helps people evaluate performance.

 

We'll start out putting this index for the countries that are part of this based on weights of their economies, but we will then adjust it based on their performance against some investability criteria--how easy it is to invest, conditions for investing.  This will both refine the index, but it will also create an incentive for countries to take steps to improve their local securities markets.

 

The third aspect of this is also worth noting, which is that our expectation is that we'll be able to help develop these markets over the course of ten years, and then we'll exit, so it doesn't have to be an ongoing venture.

 

The second point you mentioned was public-private partnerships.  As part of our IDA effort, we are making a particular initiative to see how we can cooperate, as we did in the case of the Bujagali Dam in Uganda, with government finance through IDA but also private sector finance, whether it be through the IFC and others.  So, in the area of infrastructure development, this will be particularly important.  Since I think you said you were from Mexico, the same principle applies more generally, but in that case, it may not be with IDA funding, since Mexico is at a higher level.  So part of the role that we can play here is sharing some of the experience from around the world about where you could have the right intervention of public funds but also do it in a way that draws private capital.

 

This will be so critical, because if you take the issue of climate change, for example, and you look at the sums involved for both energy development but also low-carbon strategies, they are much more than governments can handle or that we can handle as a public institution.  So part of our role is as a catalyst, to show what works and to try to create the right enabling environment for private sector funds.

 

MR. HANLON:   And we have time for one final question.

Yes, Diana Gregg.

 

QUESTION:   Diana Gregg with BNA.

 

Would you just clarify--when you were talking about the Volcker Report, you said that it's on the Web, and you have an internal group looking at it item-by-item, and you hope to complete this by the end of the year; but you also mentioned the Board's approval of the Anti-Corruption Strategy.

 

Can you just differentiate between the two things?  Is one thing going forward, and then the other one will happen later?

 

MR. ZOELLICK:   Yes, that's a good point.

 

Coming out of the Singapore Annual Meetings, the  Governors agreed on some core principles to guide a broad-based Governance and Anti-Corruption Strategy.  It was then the responsibility of the institution to translate this into an Implementation Plan to be used throughout the Bank, throughout the field staff and others.

 

When I referred to the Board just acted on that, I was referring to that Implementation Plan.  But I want to stress--and this is what I have mentioned to the regional vice presidents and the country directors and our operations staff--is that having passed the plan is far from having implemented it.  So our real challenge will be how we operate this in the field.

 

Now, the Volcker Report focused principally on the role of the Internal Investigations Office, INT, and how it operated in the more specific category of investigating corruption and fraud and other issues, and then, critically important, how we use those findings.  If you look through the recommendations, there is a lot that really goes to the question of who gets the information when, how you share with the regional offices, how you share with the countries, and recognizing that one has tensions, because sometimes you have confidential sources.  But there are other projects that the INT Office does that are more of an overview analysis of country   programs, trying to figure out how to share those.

 

But the way that some of these get connected is that one recommendation of the Volcker Report was saying that the INT practices are really more designed to catch things after they have occurred, and wouldn't it be sensible to try to use that knowledge and become preventive.  So that goes to the point about having a unit that would take lessons learned and then apply it back to the Governance Strategy.

 

So, on the Volcker Report--and there are many other recommendations, including how we deal with the unit that deals with internal issues--and that is what we are going through item-by-item, what we are discussing with the Board, what we have out for public comment, we have a representative of the Staff Association on the working group, and that's what I hope we'll be able to start to get decisions and action on those recommendations during the course of the year.

 

Now, some of those, as your question suggests, would relate back to the Governance and Anti-Corruption Strategy, and then we'll integrate them as appropriate.

 

MR. HANLON:  Okay.  Once again, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

 




Permanent URL for this page: http://go.worldbank.org/R4P35I89W0