Monday, January 09, 2006

World Bank Accountability

The World Bank was founded almost six decades ago and only now is releasing reports showing that some of the most promoted programs for the poor in the history of the world are more likely to benefit the rich. It seems to have taken a businessman looking at the return on his donations that got the matter investigated. Now they just need an economist to explain to them why this is inevitable with politically-based programs....

James Perron, The World Bank Gets Introspective, 1/6/2006

It was only a matter of time before the world's current leading entrepreneur began to ask questions about where World Bank grants were going or what they were doing once they arrived. Bill Gates, who gives away in excess of one billion dollars a year to various causes and projects, is also noted for paying close attention to Microsoft's cash flow. One of the most successful companies of the past century, Microsoft has not suffered by this insistence on accountable financials. This shouldn't be surprising. Anyone who manages a shop or a Fortune 500 company can tell you that if you don't keep close watch on the books, the money will go out the door.

Evidently, unlike officials at the World Bank, who are only too happy to tell governments what to do, Gates knows about financial accountability, is aware of history, and is willing to research news sources beyond the in-house journals of the World Bank and the UN. Anyone who's paid attention over the past three or four decades can't miss the obvious, that while Enron's corrupt management has cost billions of dollars, self-described progressive programs, whether by NGOs, the World Bank, or the largesse of Western governments, have enriched thousands while abetting the slaughter of millions. (For a good look at a decades-long story, totally ignored by MSM, read Robert D. Kaplan's Surrender or Starve, a history of the Ethiopian civil war and how Western aid programs directly contributed to mass murder by ignoring the artful maldistribution of aid there by Ethiopia's government.)

One hopes that the World Bank's new President, Paul Wolfowitz, will fulfill the fears of those who opposed his nomination by acting on what the Gates-sponsored investigation has shown. The power of the World Bank to mitigate conflicts and encourage development is only theoretical if the organization's mission is informed by false premises. He might begin to examining how the World Bank might look into the growing and hugely successful area of micro-investment, where local, small businesses are assisted. As an alternative to an approach that favors big project finance, which rarely favors poor communities, the use of micro-loans has revolutionized major areas of south Asia, enabling tens of thousands of local entrepreneurs.

Maybe Bill Gates could take on another project as well and send his financial auditors to the United States Congress and its budget office!


No comments: