Highlights of UK NGO meeting with UK Executive Director to the WB/IMF Tom Scholar

25 June 2007 | Minutes

Present: Tom Scholar, Nick Alton (FCO), Peter Taylor (DFID – IFID)

UK NGOs: Trisha Rogers (JDC), Romilly Greenhill (ActionAid), Martin Kirk (Save), Helen Leake (FPP), Claire Wren (OWT), Oliver Buston (DATA), Marinke van Riet (IFRTD), Jeff Powell (BWP)

Highlights of Tom Scholar’s responses:

1. Review of WB transport strategy

  • On hold due to ‘upheaval’ – it will go back through president’s office
  • Support IFRTD’s points on the need for it to be gender-equitable and pro-poor, and those of Public World that the consultation be improved

2. Avoided deforestation

  • In the past WB did not prioritise global public goods, this must change: Bank role must be to be ‘a’ leader, not ‘the’ leader
  • Will get DFID staff member responsible for climate change and forestry to respond to FPP

3. Conditionality

  • Great idea to have Mozambican civil society presenting their views to IDA deputies – UK will help find ways for other countries to meet them
  • On review of conditionality, good example is IMF’s regular (currently /2 year, soon / 3 year) review of policy implementation, buttressed by IEO; open to a review ‘outside the framework’ (in response to NGO call for an independent review) – to be decided after evaluating the current review done by the Bank

4. Debt

  • Do not know where Norwegian (illegitimate) debt study is at
  • G8 charter of responsible lending will feed into WB/IMF discussions on how to implement the debt sustainability framework – next DSF review to take place first half of 2008

5. Social protection

  • Will be useful to get Save’s points on the strengths and weaknesses of WB’s CCT model and its (non)applicability to Africa; WB feels Latin American experience successful; they have a reputation for one-size-fits-all solutions, though the best bits of the Bank don’t think this way
  • Best to talk to alternate ED Caroline Sergeant (nb. Caroline will be replaced by Martin Dinham in September)

6. Governance

  • Last two months have proven that information disclosure policy needs overhaul (rather than requiring further investigations of leaks)
  • New head of EXR has ideas in his head about reform for CSO engagement; further meetings planned for later this year
  • Very pleased to see NGO report on IMF board accountability – further impetus will come from IEO review of board (and from events at WB board over last two months)
  • Volcker review of INT – well aware of concerns – Volcker and his members were chosen by the president, not the board; INT is a key part of the Bank’s governance structure, but it has to be effective, credible and able to work with staff and governments; board needs to talk to new president about this, including how to respond to GAP announcement of a parallel review
  • Lack of second candidate was disappointing – a step backwards from IMF process in 2004. Leadership selection is ‘resolutely’ on the table – governors have instructed board to deal with it and the M-D has addressed it (at the IMF); Zoellick would be well advised to do the same at the Bank – we will push to have it in the WB reform discussions
  • Strategic review of WB – (chief economist) Francois Bourguignon has a group which is an ‘intellectual examination of the changing context and what it means to WB policy’ – this will be only an input to the review; will have to work out with Zoellick how it will be done; should start immediately, with a draft put out for broad consultation
  • Zoellick is aware of the problem of remaining Wolfowitz appointees; he’ll be getting advice, taking time to make up his own view; he will undoubtedly discuss with board

7. Goodbye Tom

  • Tom informed us that this would be his last meeting with us as UK ED. He did not yet know (or would not say!) what post he will be assuming, and did not yet know his replacement at UKdel.