A few weeks ago, the World Bank’s soft-lending arm IDA held the mid-term review of its 18th round of funding. As background for the meeting, the World Bank produced a status update of the new IDA Private Sector Window (PSW) that I have blogged about before. The update provides valuable insight into how the $2.5 billion of PSW funding is being used at the halfway mark of its spending cycle but leaves some big unknowns.
CGD Policy Blogs
In my last blog post on the IDA Private Sector Window, I noted the strong principles on subsidies to the private sector that were agreed by the heads of the multilateral development banks (MDBs) in 2012 as part of the Multilateral Development Bank Principles to Support Sustainable Private Sector Operations. Those principles can be summarized as “start with the public policy problem, use open offers or competitive approaches, maximize transparency.” It is interesting to compare the MDB principles to the principles which later emerged from the DFI Working Group on Blended Concessional Finance for Private Sector Projects.
I have previously suggested that the current design of the $2.5 billion World Bank/IDA Private Sector Window (PSW) seemed an inefficient use of scarce aid resources, didn’t follow the World Bank’s own guidance on disclosure and design of subsidies to the private sector, and is noncompetitive, nontransparent, and unstructured. In this blog post, I offer some ideas on how the World Bank Group could reconstruct the PSW towards real development impact in the next round of IDA funding, to be negotiated in 2019.
“IFC 3.0” is a welcome and important initiative for a development finance institution that in the past has been accused of putting profits before impact. But the IDA PSW instrument is a throwback to the old IFC—opaque as well as inefficiently targeted on development results. Designing “PSW 2.0” should be an urgent priority at the IDA 18 Mid-Term Review in November.