The UK Government’s White Paper on International Development, launched in November, made excellent statements about focussing more firmly on poverty and the environment but lacked detail on specific policy targets for the World Bank and IMF. The Bretton Woods Project submitted a statement to a subsequent parliamentary Committee hearing urging the government to set out its World Bank and IMF policies and objectives more clearly. The main points of the submission were as follows.
The Paper contains language on ethical and labour issues in business, but does not state whether World Bank support for private sector projects should follow the same principles as outlined for bilateral aid to the private sector – a “primary aim of helping to reduce poverty”, compatibility with country strategies and social and environmental criteria.
Coordination and Conditionality:
The Paper states that developing country governments should feel greater “ownership” of reforms but also praises the Bank and Fund for the “influence they can exercise over the policies of partner governments”. The UK should specify how it will determine “the appropriate agency in each particular country or sector” which it feels should lead donor discussions, as the World Bank and IMF currently dominate the coordination of development assistance.
Public Input and Scrutiny:
In line with the Paper’s support for increasing civil society input into development programme design the UK should press the Bank and Fund to make documents such as Policy Framework Papers and Country Assistance Strategies open to full consultation.
Monitoring Multilateral Institutions:
The Paper states good general aims for the multilaterals but does not specify new mechanisms by which UK officials can monitor them in conjunction with NGOs, MPs and academics.
Improving Evaluation Mechanisms:
The Paper states that multilateral organisations need to improve their evaluation procedures.
The Bank should make evaluation more timely, independent and informative and strengthen the Inspection Panel.
The IMF should move beyond its limited and experimental ad hoc evaluation procedure to establish an independent evaluation unit reporting directly to the Board and publishing all its findings.
IMF Capital Account Liberalisation:
The Paper states that the UK Government will “support moves to make capital account liberalisation a specific purpose of the IMF and to give the Fund appropriate jurisdiction over capital movements”. Yet the Group of 24 developing countries and others are very dubious about such a move.
The White Paper is available from HMSO, PO Box 276, London SW8 5DT, Fax: 0171 873 8200.
The Bretton Woods Project submission from the Project.