The sweeping reorganization of the World Bank Group, which
has stirred up considerable controversy both within and outside
the institution, is due to be approved tomorrow by the
Banks Development Committee and will involve job losses
The World Bank Group Strategy is designed to
consolidate the currently far-flung World Bank
empire, Bank President Jim Yong Kim told Emerging
Markets in an interview in which he defended the proposed
restructuring of Bank operations and of staff.
His strategy will see the creation of 14 global
practices within the Bank embracing different project
areas and countries and designed to cut $400 million or 8% over
three years from the budget of the Bank, which employs some
12,000 people in 120 offices around the world.
Nothing less than securing the long-term future of the
planet and its resources is the aim of Kims new
strategy by making the World Bank work more in
partnership with others, including the private sector, and
increasing its collaboration across its agencies.
The reorganization is the biggest thing in 17
years for the Bank, Kim said at his opening press
conference yesterday. But others question whether the strategy
is an answer to the World Banks long-standing problems of
achieving an optimum size and mode of its operations.
The reorganization the fourth since 1997
may or may not help according to Harinder Kohli who
spent 25 years in senior positions in the Bank. The basic
problem is that the Bank has become too complex and too
diffuse, he told Emerging Markets.
The key issue is what is the Bank all about and where
it wants to be 10 years from now, said Kohli, adding his
voice to others who argue the World Bank spends a great deal of
time and money on reorganizations that end up making the
institution bigger but not better.
Patently uninspiring and simply confusing is how
the 1818 Society, a Washington-based association of some 6,000
former Bank employees described Kims plans.
The critical issue of what should constitute the
Banks business and how it should be financed has been
lost sight of, the Society said in a bulletin which
referred to an unseemly battle between pro-centre and
pro-regional forces within Bank management over control of
An organization-wide survey after Kim took office showed the
Bank had become six regional banks that werent
really talking to each other, he said.
What we are doing with the structural change is taking
all of the technical people working in any particular area
health, education or water for example and
[making] them part of a Global Practice to make best
practice available universally. The Bank is not bringing
them out of the countries where they operate, he
We are looking at how we can consolidate and how we
can put ourselves on a path of growth, Kim told
Emerging Markets. There will be staff
reductionstheres no question.
We are going to go through every single part of the
budget and have a minimum of $400 million of cuts over the next
three years. That causes alarm at first but I have no doubt in
my mind that we can find efficiencies.
Of course there will be staff cuts but it will be done
strategically. I tell my staff if you are a person who is
making a critical contribution to ending poverty and boosting
shared prosperity your future at the Bank is going to be
bright. But if you are doing things that are just adding layers
of bureaucracy and checking then we are going to have to make