Parliamentarians increase demands on World Bank

5 April 2004

At a major conference in February parliamentarians from 70 countries demanded a greater say in approving national policy frameworks. They also began discussing ways to make the Parliamentarians Network on the World Bank more genuinely independent of the Bank.

At the network’s conference elected representatives asked the World Bank to tell governments that its executive board will not approve Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers unless they are first reviewed by national legislatures. The network’s chair, Bert Koenders, said “present policies circumvent the decisionmaking process”. Bank president Wolfensohn agreed to set up a working group to examine World Bank/parliamentarian relations.

present policies circumvent the decisionmaking process

Whilst the network became formally independent last year it lacks the capacity to run its own events or information flows, leaving these to be done by World Bank staff. Ian Goldin, World Bank vice president for external affairs, described the relationship of the network to the Bank as “independent and yet symbiotic”. Many MPs active in the network are known to want it to break free to have more of a life of its own. If it strengthens its links with other parliamentary networks and with interested civil society groups, it could contribute substantially to other efforts to monitor the World Bank.