Spreading prosperity and reducing extreme poverty were among the main issues discussed at the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) held in mid-October in Washington, DC. The summit, attended by more than 13,000 people from 185 countries, saw the World Bank Group setting a target to reduce global poverty to 9% by 2020. Jim Yong Kim World Bank Group's president, also outlined ideas on how to make the group's agencies more effective. One of the main ways that Mr Kim proposed to do this was by bringing its agencies closer together.
“We did an organisation-wide survey, and every single person in the World Bank Group was surveyed, and the message coming back from our own staff was really clear... We were becoming six regional banks that weren't really talking to each other,” said Mr Kim at the press conference opening the summit.
The World Bank Group has launched a 'global practice' scheme that it hopes will counter this problem. The scheme aims to promote the most innovative solutions from the group's field operations. Plans were also announced to boost the capacity of the International Development Association, a financial institution within the World Bank Group that focuses on offering loans and grants to the world's least developed countries.
“We will become more of a game-changing catalyst that draws billions of dollars of private sector capital into poor countries – countries that have had a difficult time attracting the kind of investment that creates good jobs,” said Mr Kim. “In the coming months and years, the world will see a renewed and revitalised World Bank Group, one that rigorously works to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.”
With the event being held in the US capital, at the time of the federal government shutdown, the issue of the US debt default was also on the agenda.
“There is a concern about what is happening here. In terms of a short-term issue, the US fiscal problem is the most worrisome threat for the world economy,” Felipe Larrain, the Chilean minister of finance, told fDi. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the minister of finance of Singapore and the chairman of IMF policy steering committee, said: "Private investment relies on confidence and if we don't see a resolution of the US fiscal dispute it is hard to see how that is going to come back."
The World Bank Group's head also took time to address that issue during his speech at the end of the summit. “I urge US policy-makers to quickly come to a resolution before they reach the debt ceiling deadline. The closer we get to the deadline, the greater the impact will be for the developing world. Inaction could result in interest rates rising, confidence falling and growth slowing,” said Mr Kim.