Recently, my colleague Clemence Landers argued that International Development Association (IDA), the largest source of concessional loans and grant finance for the world’s poorest countries, needs to “go big” in its next replenishment.
CGD Policy Blogs
Makhtar Diop, former minister of finance in Senegal and current vice president for infrastructure at the World Bank, has been tapped to be the next head of the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group’s private sector investment arm. This is welcome news: Diop’s experience and talents can help steer IFC towards greater development impact during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
How gender balanced is the World Bank's board?
Philippe Le Houerou, the Chief Executive of the IFC has announced his intention to step down in September. His legacy will include a significant effort to focus the work of the corporation on development impact and the world’s poorest countries. Le Houerou has had some success. But a look at IFC’s portfolio suggests how far the institution still has to go to have the biggest impact.
The World Bank Group has some very clear (and very good) guidelines about what makes for a successful public-private partnership where governments contract service provision like energy supply or education from private firms. Sadly, the bank has been ignoring that rule recently. And that is a sign of a broader problem in donor-backed financing of public-private partnership deals.
The Private Sector Window (PSW) takes resources from the World Bank’s soft lending arm, the International Development Association (IDA), and uses it to support private sector investments in poorer developing countries.This is a comparatively straightforward way for the IFC to move money, but it is hard to know if it is a good way, in part because of the Corporation’s opaque lending practices –which need to change.
I’m not convinced that the IFC will manage to deliver on all of the promises it is making in order to receive the funds. And I think that congressional concerns with the IFC’s use of aid in an attempt to meet lending targets are right. So, reform should come alongside resources.
A broad array of international actors agrees that many developing countries desperately need to collect more tax revenue. But one part of the World Bank is pushing in the other direction.
Today the IFC announced a step forward in its transparency around the use of aid resources to finance private companies. That’s right and proper: When scarce aid, and scarce tax resources, are used to support private firms, citizens of donor countries and recipient countries alike have a right to know where the money is going to and how generous the terms. A number of us at CGD had been calling for greater transparency around subsidies to the private sector from the IFC and other development finance institutions, so this is a welcome first step. However, a few aspects have might be cause for concern.