Written by Gael Masengi
The World Bank has chosen Korean-American health expert Jim Yong Kim as its next chief yesterday (Monday 16 April) in a decision that left people eyes rolling.
Contrary to what many economy experts and public at large include myself thought, the bank’s directors chose a 52 year-old Asian-American physician Yong Kim as their new president, over the Nigerian financial veteran Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who criticised the bank’s process of selection and predicted the apparent victory of the United States’ nominee.
“You know this thing is not really being decided on merit” Ms Okonjo-Iweala said on Monday just hours before the directors’ decision, “It is voting with political weight and shares and therefore the United State will get it.”
|Jim Yong Kim|
Already on Friday the other nominee for the post, the former Columbian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo ended his bid to run the world largest developing agency, World Bank, citing lack of support from his own home country and also political choice rather than experience in financial sector. Ocampo who hoped emerging-market nations would rally behind Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in a race that had turned highly political was left disappointed but not surprised on Russia’s decision to support Jim Yong Kim. However Dr Ocampo’s decision to leave the race did not mean all the developing countries would support Ms Okonjo-Iwela’s candidacy. Despite calls to the bank to follow its own advice it gives to nations of rejecting cronyism and filling each important job with the best candidate available, the bank’s decision to leave the very experienced on international financial system, Ngozi Iweala-Okonjo, in favour of the American was politically made than merited and probably based on the influence which the United State of America has over other principle World Bank shareholders, Japan and Western Europe countries. The transatlantic relation is appear to be more based on looking after each other’s interest, mainly Europe and North America while forgetting about others within the same region. The respected former South African Finance Minister opted out the race, last year, to run the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when Domique Strauss Khan left, he then stated political interference; “It is important to understand that decisions take place in the context of politics. Against that backdrop, I have decided not to avail myself.” he said. The job eventually went to another French woman Christine La Garde. With the arrival of new power or well…not yet power block like BRICS the US and allies have to play fair and loosen up their old traditions in favour of new ones.
Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College will assume his new post on July 1 after the bank’s current president Robert Zoellick mandate comes to end in June, Zoellick slammed Kim’s ‘science-based’ drive of the bank as invaluable for the financial institution. Ms Okonjo-Iweala issued a statement congratulating Kim and said she is looking forward to working with him. However, she insisted that the selection process needs to be improved.
|Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala|
“It is clear to me that we need to make it more open, transparent and merit-based,” she said. “We need to make sure that we do not contribute to a democratic deficit in global governance.”
Africa which had high hope on its own daughter is very disappointed on the bank’s American favouritism, the South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan who backed Okonjo-Iweala also expressed concern over the selection and saluted the pressure put on by emerging market countries, said on Monday: “We have come some way because it’s no longer in smoke-filled rooms of Europe and the US that the spoils are shared between the IMF and World Bank positions, between those two centres of power. This time the invitation was open to anybody to nominate a candidate.”