World Bank, IMF Discuss Development Funds At Annual Meeting

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) fund requires new resources from Western governments to adequately fight global poverty, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Saturday during the annual meetings of the bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., the Guardian reports. The IDA “provides soft loans and grants to the 79 poorest countries,” the newspaper writes.

Zoellick said that if donors fail to provide enough funds, it could “devastate” efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (Elliott, 10/10).

“Zoellick said a ‘robust’ fund-raising effort could help immunize 200 million more children, extend health services to 30 million additional people, help build 80,000 kilometers of roads, and train and recruit over 2 million more teachers,” Reuters reports.

“Our challenge is at a time of budget stress we need to put together the coalition … to show that we have everybody contributing, and we are on the way to doing that but it will require continued push,” he said, noting that the bank is “not just asking the traditional donors to carry the load.” According to the news service, “the World Bank is tapping a deeper pool of emerging market donors that includes China and Brazil.”

In response to a question about “whether donors should tax financial transactions to help raise money for poor countries,” Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the IMF, said such a step could take a lot of time and delay funds, Reuters reports. “I would not rely too much on this idea,” he said. “It takes so much time to have it that finally you will never get the money for the goal you are looking at” (10/10).

In 2007, governments pledged “a record 41.7 billion dollars over three years” for the IDA, Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C notes, adding that the World Bank “has yet to make an official request for how much [IDA] needs.”

Leaders hope to reach a deal for beyond 2011 by the end of this year (10/10).

At the conclusion of the annual meeting, the World Bank–IMF Development Committee “called on the Bank Group to continue efforts toward sustainable recovery with a results-focused approach,” according to a World Bank press release.

In a communique (.pdf), the committee said, “The food, fuel and financial crises … have taken a heavy toll. We commit to intensify our efforts to achieve the MDGs by 2015, with a stronger focus on results” (10/9). The committee also “called for countries to avoid protectionism, amid rising global tension on trade and currency policies,” Dow Jones Newswires reports.

But anti-poverty organization “Oxfam lamented the lack of progress this weekend on the development agenda and reforming the IMF,” according to the news service. Mark Fried, a spokesperson for Oxfam, said “there’s been no movement on any issues of significance.” He continued, “There’s been a fight about currencies, and developing countries seem to have been forgotten” (Barkley, 10/8).

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