Saturday, March 28, 2009

World Bank: Give us Money, Just Don't Make Us Accountable

From the WSJ:

World Bank President Robert Zoellick has recently taken to calling on rich countries to pony up 0.7% of their respective stimulus packages, including $6 billion from the United States, for a bank "vulnerability fund" for the world's poorer countries. It's all part of what he calls, echoing President Obama, "the Age of Responsibility."
Apparently "responsibility" doesn't apply to the World Bank:

The bank has publicly stated that the debarments mean only that these companies will be prevented "from bidding on future World Bank-financed contracts." Does that mean that the companies continue to get money from the bank for the contracts that were signed before the debarments? Interesting question. Our sources say they do, and the bank's sanctions procedures are ambiguous on the point. We contacted the debarred companies that still have contracts with the bank, but they either hung up on us or never returned our calls.

As for the bank, it has declined to respond to our multiple queries. A February 4 bank press release promised to make a redacted report of its Philippines investigation available on its Web site "in the coming weeks," but so far we haven't seen it.

We suppose the bank might say that it owed these companies "due process" before cutting them off. But that doesn't mean the bank had to do more than a half-billion dollars of business with companies it suspected of corruption. If this is the "responsibility" that the bank proposes to exercise over the new taxpayer billions Mr. Zoellick is requesting, his donors should look for worthier recipients.

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