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
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.
Moving beyond low income countries makes sense for an institution focused on ending extreme poverty. But does the IFC follow through by focusing on the countries that are home to the extreme poor? Not really.
IFC Spokesman Frederick Jones has replied to our blog on the IFC’s risk appetite. First off, thanks to Fred and the IFC for replying. The Corporation has a unique role to play in global development finance and we’re keen for that role to grow, so we’re happy that the report has generated so much conversation about IFC’s portfolio, both within and outside IFC. And second, we commend IFC for its plans to do more in poor countries and those that are classified as fragile states—it is where the Corporation can have the most impact and where it is most needed.
Since the publication of our paper on the IFC’s project portfolio last week, we have received several helpful comments from readers. They plausibly suggest that the portfolio may be (even) less risky than we suggested, with even more space to pivot towards the low income countries where the IFC can make the most difference. But until the IFC publishes more information, we won’t really know.
Vijaya Ramachandran, Ben Leo, Jared Karlow and I have just published two papers looking at where and in what capacity the IFC, OPIC, and selected European development finance institutions (DFIs) are investing their money. The core of the papers is a dataset that Jared painstakingly put together by scraping public documentation about DFI projects. It wasn’t easy because DFIs are considerably behind many aid agencies in releasing usable data on their portfolios. And that lack of transparency presents a significant problem if those same DFIs spend aid money on subsidizing the private sector.
The International Finance Corporation’s Mission Is Facilitating Risky Investments—So Why Is It Taking on Less and Less Risk?
The IFC is designed to catalyze investments in countries that investors might consider too risky to invest in alone. But our recent analysis of IFC’s portfolio found that it is shying away from risky investments, raising serious questions about whether the IFC is focusing on the places where it can make the most difference.
Yesterday in a blog about the World Bank and open contracting, I mentioned the bank had put out more data on contracts that it finances. The covered contracts are those that were large enough for World Bank procurement procedures to mandate “prior review” by bank staff before they were awarded, a designation that covers the considerable majority of bank-financed contract value.