World Bank to Consult on Report About Governance

19 August 2016

The World Bank in early September will seek public comment on a major report about the role of power imbalances in development policy.

The initial draft of the report, known as the “yellow cover” version, made its way outside the Bank informally in June as it was being reviewed internally. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) The 415-page report now is being redrafted following an internal “yellow cover review meeting.” One very critical review came from the vice president overseeing the process. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

A “green cover” version will be published around Sept. 5 for a comment period, according to Bank officials.

The solicitation of outside comments on World Development Reports (WDRs) has been done in the past but not in recent years. WDRs are done annually on selected topics deemed strategically important. The final draft reports (the “gray cover” versions) are reviewed by the Bank Board before being released in final form.

The key message of this year’s report revolves around “asymmetries in bargaining power” and how to analyze and react to them in order to achieve better outcomes.

The report does not focus extensively on operational implications, but aims to encourage more thinking about bargaining disequilibrium.

One potential outcome could be to boost Bank efforts to disseminate more widely objective information related to national policy debates. The draft also speaks of the importance of transformational leaders, people who have the capacity to challenge and change political policies and beliefs.

“Strong reservations” about the report were expressed in a four-page memo by Jan Walliser, Vice President of Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions (EFI). He asked that “the conceptual framework” of the report “be significantly recast and broadened.” His memo noted what he described as “voluminous and often critical” reaction to the report from within the Bank.

Preparation of the report comes as the Bank appears to have cut back on its efforts to support freedom of information and on its funding of civil society efforts to hold governments accountable. (See previous Freedominfo.org report report on the Bank FOI staff reduction and a story on the subsequent international CSO protest letter. See previous FreedomInfo.org article on a reduction in funds for the Global Partnership for Social Accountability.)

 

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In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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