Exclusive: World Bank to cut $400 million from budget in reorganization

Tue Oct 8, 2013 8:25am EDT
 
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By Anna Yukhananov

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank plans to cut $400 million from its budget as part of a sweeping reorganization to make the global development lender more efficient and responsive, the bank's chief financial officer said on Monday.

The savings, which have not yet been publicly disclosed, are part of the World Bank's first major strategic realignment in 17 years. The $400 million figure will be presented to the World Bank's member countries later this week during its annual meetings, along with a new strategy to focus the institution on its poverty-fighting goals.

The $400 million in savings will be phased in over three years and mark an 8 percent cut from the bank's current $5 billion in annual expenses, Bertrand Badre, who is also the bank's managing director for finance, said in an interview.

Badre said the ultimate goal of the cuts, along with planned increases in revenue, was to help the bank grow and better serve governments.

Long criticized for a slow bureaucratic process for approving lending, the World Bank has more recently had to contend with greater competition for development funds. Many middle-income countries, for example, can rely more on private funding and bilateral loans as they grow.

In response, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has launched the first new strategy for the lender since 1996, aiming to make it more selective and better attuned to the needs of the governments it serves.

The strategy should make it easier for the bank to meet its twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of people in each country.

In its strategy, the bank said it was looking at ways to trim its budget while putting more funds into priority areas, including "transformational" projects such as large-scale energy investments.   Continued...