World Bank needs reform: Colombian candidate

Last Updated: Tue, Apr 03, 2012 08:19 hrs

Washington: The World Bank needs to be reformed to reflect the rising of emerging countries and to serve for their needs, said Jose Antonio Ocampo, one of the three contenders for World Bank's top job.

The 59-year-old former Colombian finance minister now teaching at Columbia University in New York said his nomination came from a selection process managed by directors representing the developing countries in the World Bank board and he is "truly a candidate of the developing world".

"The World Bank has not fully adapted to the changing world order. The balance of power in all global institutions has to shift to reflect global trends: the rise of China, Brazil, South Africa and other emerging economies," he told Xinhua in an email interview.

He also said it is essential for the Bank as a leading poverty-reduction organization to maintain its global expertise to support development.

He said the Bank should remain a truly global institution, giving special assistance to low-income countries and also helping middle-income countries meet the challenges they face, such as building endogenous technological capacities and comprehensive social protection system.

In the future, Ocampo believed the Bank has two major priorities -- fighting poverty and contributing to major global objectives, notably climate change.

"It must do more to support developing countries diversify their production structures, combat social inequalities and build universal systems of education, health and social protection," he said.

Ocampo also noted that more efforts should be made to enhance the voice and representation of developing countries in international economic decision-making process.

"On the other hand, if developing countries want to have a stronger voice, they have to act in a concerted way," he added.

Also a former senior UN official, Ocampo thought he has the broadest experience of all the three candidates, adding that he has held high-ranking positions in national, regional and global institutions.

Also nominated for the post are Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American physician picked by US president Barack Obama, and Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was endorsed by three African countries.

The three candidates are to be interviewed April 9, 10 and 11 by the Bank's executive board. It is the first time the top post has been contested by two non-US challengers since the Bank's founding after WWII.

Ocampo said he is preparing for this process, making his views and strengths widely known. He argued that the leader of the institution has to be selected through a merit-based transparent system from the pool of expertise that is available in any of the member states, and particularly in the developing world.

The 25-director board plans to pick a candidate by April 20 to replace Robert Zoellick, whose term ends June 30.

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