Highlights of UK NGO meeting with executive director to the World Bank and IMF, Tom Scholar

December 2005

12 January 2006 | Minutes

In attendance: James Leaton (WWF), Patrick Watt (ActionAid), Caroline Pearce (JDC), Trisha Rogers (JDC), Jonathan Glennie (Christian Aid), Ian Neal (Engineers Against Poverty), Sarah Hague (Save the Children), Simon Counsell (Rainforest Foundation), Jo Trevor (World Vision), Lucy Baker and Jeff Powell (BWP), Claire Harris, Chris Isaac, John Moye, Chris Young (DFID), Tamsin Rees (FCO), Tom Scholar (UKDel)

On debt:

  • Countries pre-completion point must meet existing conditions. Post-completion point (18 + 2 – Tajikistan and Cambodia) must meet a ‘quick health check’ looking at public expenditure management, confirmation of PRSP in place and confirmation of macroeconomic framework. There were proposals to ‘raise the bar’ but this was rejected – UK thinks HIPC already has too many conditions.
  • World Bank debt cancellation – advice is to start at beginning fiscal year (1 July), otherwise it would disrupt IDA allocations. Bank board has to approve, staff has to write a paper on modalities. Find it ‘inconceivable’ that IMF qualifiers won’t get Bank relief ‘barring extraordinary events’.
  • On HIPC – UK pushing to move more countries through more quickly and ‘bring our new attitude to conditionality’. Sunset clause concludes in March – any country in HIPC before then will proceed through no matter how long it takes. A staff report will go before the board in February outlining which countries will be ‘sunset cases’.

On conditionality:

  • Wasn’t on agenda at annual meetings because ‘didn’t want to risk progress made at executive board unravelling at board of governors. Whether it will be on annual meetings agenda next year depends on ‘whether we think the timing is good’.
  • Jim Adams, OPCS, will take forward the monitoring – not sure how – but with your/our input.
  • Governance conditionality assumes greater importance with diminishing role of prescriptive economic policy conditions, yet ‘intensely difficult’. Will take suggestion that DFID white paper might feed into this discussion.

On PRSP review:

  • Currently doing consultations, to board in March, then published at spring meetings – keen to get NGO country experiences.

On universal access to primary health care:

  • This is something we want to come back to in 2006. Policy angle. Country angle – where do we need to start? Working with Africa Department to get detailed implementation to include this. Could be on spring or annual meetings agenda – priority now is dealing with Africa department.
  • There is no clear overall position on this at World Bank – different views between country directors, health specialists, OPCS, Africa Department. If you’re hearing alarming things from Bank, let us know.

On EIR report:

  • Review was a ‘valuable exercise’ but didn’t please all. Can’t be a one-off and must be follow-through.
  • Not as much project-specific information as would have liked.
  • Would like to hear from NGOs on it, encourages them to do written submission and should consider it in context of work on climate change, to which Wolfowitz has made a personal commitment.
  • If extractive investments aren’t working in 3 – 5 years then we will need to re-think.
  • We’ve called on Bank for more ambitious climate change targets – but this is still ‘deeply controversial’ with, crudely speaking, developing countries opposed.

On IFC safeguard policy review:

  • Ref to letter by International Accountability Project and FPP on involuntary resettlement and indigenous peoples.
  • DFID does not feel we’ve moved backwards. Feel we’ve moved IFC forwards.
  • The process was bedevilled by ‘process debate’. Everybody now knows where everybody else is coming from, at a certain point you have to bring to a close.
  • Need, through EIR, for IFC to demonstrate that what it says is working is working.
  • On HGAs and human rights, Tom Scholar expressed an interest. JL referred to the lack of clarity on HGAs vis a vis environment also.


  • DFID in process of preparing a reply to Rainforest Foundation letter. Following up further with staff concerned, and want to include in response to RF.
  • UK supported Bank engagement in DRC given ‘overall situation in DRC, Bank’s relationship with DRC, and contents of programme’.
  • Bank must respond to ‘great public disquiet’.
  • US and Nordics abstained – but abstaining doesn’t achieve objective of stopping investment.
  • The issue is not settled with this project – there will be future projects, and we need to keep talking before next project/CAS.
  • Wolfowitz chaired the meeting where this was decided – agenda was re-scheduled but this is normal and didn’t change the nature of discussion.
  • Will check procedures to see if it is normal for board to accept an Inspection Panel request.

On Coal India:

  • [Will be submitted in writing and UKdel to provide written response]

On WDR equity:

  • Great piece of work – asked staff to go away and think about operationalisation. Will check on follow-up.

On human rights:

  • Nordic chair raised the issue. No idea where it will go.

On IMF strategic review:

  • IMF staff will be working further on specific issues identified in strategic review in run-up to spring meetings (7 groups headed by senior members of staff: surveillance, emerging economies, low-income countries role, capacity building, voice, internal Fund procedures, budget and finance)
  • Internal exercise first before going to EDs – not sure where next?

On voice:

  • Annual meetings 06 likely to be a discussion in anticipation of quota review finalisation by January 08
Post-completion point countries must meet a ‘quick health check’