Syndicate content

Blogs

World Bank Group and development partners team up on infrastructure investment

Angie Gentile's picture

Flanked by the finance and development ministers of France and Germany, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick launched two initiatives today that together are expected to mobilize more than $55 billion in financing for infrastructure projects over the next three years.

The multibillion dollar initiatives—the Infrastructure Recovery and Assets (INFRA) platform and Infrastructure Crisis Facility—were created to address the falloff in funding for the construction of roads, water systems, power generation and distribution, and other critical infrastructure.

There is no doubt infrastructure plays a huge role in economic growth and development, Zoellick said.

“In this crisis, we will need more and more to identify creative ways to mobilize additional financing. This facility sends an important market signal,” encouraging the private sector to continue infrastructure investment and development.

April 25, 2009 - Washington DC. World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings 2009. (l-r) Christine Lagarde, Minister of Finance, France; Roger Morier, World Bank; Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank President; Hannfried von Hindenburg, IFC; Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Development Minister, Germany. Credit: Simone McCourtie, World Bank

France and Germany became the first to sign on to the Infrastructure Crisis Facility with commitments of about $660 million through German development bank KfW and roughly $1.3 billion through French development bank Proparco.

INFRA is designed to help countries offset the negative effects of the financial crisis on their infrastructure services and investment programs, with up to $45 billion available over the next three years. Assistance will be global, but Africa is expected to see a large share of the funding.

The Infrastructure Crisis Facility, administered by IFC, a private sector branch of the Bank Group, is expected to attract more than $10 billion to help bridge the infrastructure financing gap.

At today’s signing, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul appealed to industrialized countries to support the initiative and take into account the situation in developingFrench Finance Minister Christine Lagarde countries. “They’re not responsible for the crisis. We have a special responsibility to be at their side.”

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde added: This is a time “when we can put our money where our mouth is and commit to deliver…I think the World Bank has done an outstanding job dealing with issues that are difficult. This is a good illustration of how projects should be conducted. They should be focused where they can actually make a difference.”

______

On a related note, I caught up earlier today with the Bank’s director for energy, transport and water, Jamal Saghir, who said the Bank’s Board has approved $9 billion in infrastructure projects already this fiscal year. That puts the Bank 47 percent ahead of the amount of infrastructure funding approved this time last year.

Saghir gave a shout-out to staff, who he credited with working hard to speed up project implementation to respond to the crisis.

For more information

 

G7 and G24 Meet in Washington DC

Sameer Vasta's picture

G24 Discusses Financial Crisis

The Ministers of the Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four (G24) met in Washington yesterday to discuss the global financial crisis and its widespread impact.

Following the meeting, they released a communique that highlighted, among other issues, the fact that the current crisis was having a "disproportionate effect on developing countries through various channels, including falling prices of primary commodities, sharply contracting exports, declining remittances, negative net private capital flows, and credit crunch affecting many countries"

You can download the full communique from the G24 meeting here.

G7 Addresses Recession and Downturn

The G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors met in Washington DC yesterday, amidst what they claim is "the the deepest and most widespread economic downturn and financial stress witnessed in decades."

You can read the full statement by the G7 here.

Global Monitoring Report 2009 Released

Sameer Vasta's picture

Global Monitoring Report 2009 Press Briefing. Justin Lin, WB Chief Economist. Photo: © Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

Yesterday, the IMF and the World Bank released the 2009 Global Monitoring Report, saying that the global financial crisis is imperiling attainment of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and creating an emergency for development.

Justin Lin, World Bank Chief Economist, spoke about the crisis at the launch of the report:

"Worldwide, we have an enormous loss of wealth and financial stability. Millions more people will lose their jobs in 2009, and urgent funding must be provided for social safety nets, infrastructure, and small businesses in poor countries, for a sustainable recovery."

For more information:

Meetings home in on regional impact and solutions to crisis

Nina Vucenik's picture

Regional finance ministers and development practitioners teamed up today to brainstorm solutions to the troubling economic crisis.

Young money changer on bank of Senegal River, the border between Senegal and Mauritania. Photo: Scott Wallace / World Bank Amid World Bank warnings that Africa is likely to be the worst-hit region by the global financial crisis, African finance ministers and Bank staff met today to determine the way forward in dealing with the impact of the global financial crisis on African countries.

Hosted by the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa, Shanta Devarajan, and chaired by vice president for Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili, the meeting challenged participants to “think outside the box” in determining solutions to the negative economic, humanitarian and political effects the crisis already is having on the continent.

“The major challenge facing African countries and their development partners is how to design appropriate policies that would respond to this crisis,” Ezekwesili said.

She said sound macro-economic policies put forward by Africans over the last decade, which have, in part, led to significant growth rates, are now being questioned.

Flexibility, diversification, and regional solutions are key to combating the crisis, meeting participants agreed. Uganda Central Bank Governor Emmanuel Tumasiime-Mutabile advised flexibility of markets, of regimes, and of policies in order to stem the force of the crisis.

Bank to Mobilize over $7bn for Health, Education

Nina Vucenik's picture

High school girls taking notes. Suapur, Bangladesh.Photo: Scott Wallace/ World Bank The Bank said today it is mobilizing over $7 billion for health and education to help poor countries battle threats to their social services during the crisis. The new health and education numbers follow an announcement earlier this week that its investments in social protection programs, including social safety nets, are expected to rise dramatically for 2009-2010 to $12 billion.

As part of this announcement, the Bank released a report titled, Averting a Human Crisis During the Global Downturn, which examines how previous financial downturns affected countries’ social protection programs.

Crisis Can Affect Social Services Programs

Evidence from previous crises in Argentina, Indonesia, Thailand, and Russia shows that governments were forced to cut health services as a result of shrinking budgets and that returning health spending to pre-crisis levels took up to 10-15 years to achieve, according to the report.

"We cannot afford a 'lost' generation of people as a result of this crisis," said Joy Phumaphi, the World Bank's Vice President for Human Development and former Health Minister for Botswana. "It is essential that developing countries and aid donors act now to protect and expand their spending on health, education and other basic social services and target these efforts to make sure they reach the poorest and most vulnerable groups."

AIDS Treatment Programs in Jeopardy

An AIDS orphan lies in a bed made from a hanging mosquito net and drinks a bottle of milk. Photo: Masaru Goto / World Bank The report also warns that according to preliminary findings from 69 countries, which offer treatment to 3.4 million people on antiretroviral treatment (ART), suggests that 8 countries now face shortages of antiretroviral drugs or other disruptions to AIDS treatment. Twenty-two countries, home to more than 60 percent of people worldwide on AIDS treatment , expect to face disruptions over the course of the year.

"We cannot afford a 'lost' generation of people as a result of this crisis," Phumaphi said. "It is essential that developing countries and aid donors act now to protect and expand their spending on health, education and other basic social services and target these efforts to make sure they reach the poorest and most vulnerable groups."

Development Committee Papers

Nina Vucenik's picture

Earlier this week, the Development Committee released the papers they will discuss at their meeting on Sunday, April 26.

Among other issues, they will discuss the current global economic crisis and "voice" (ensuring people from all parts of the world have a say in key issues that affect them).

The Development Committee (DC) is a forum of the World Bank and the IMF that facilitates intergovernmental consensus-building on development issues. Its mandate is to advise the Boards of Governors of the Bank and the IMF on critical development issues and on the financial resources required to promote economic development in developing countries.
Log in on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. to watch the press briefing with DC Chair, Minister Agustín Carstens, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Development Committee

Papers:

BBC World holds debate on global recession at World Bank headquarters

Angie Gentile's picture

BBC World Debates

 
BBC World yesterday hosted a debate at World Bank headquarters in Washingtonon on how the world's poorest are being affected by the global economic downturn and what can be done to avert a major international human disaster. While the rich world pours billions of dollars into banks and companies, why can’t it spare more for the poorest nations now suffering the effects of the downturn, asked BBC Host Zeinab Badawi.

The five-person panel–including World Bank President Robert Zoellick, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Mozambique Prime Minister Luisa Dias Diogo, Indian economic planner Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and activist Bob Geldof—agreed that a solution to the crisis can’t be business as usual and needs to come now.

Bob Geldolf at BBC World DebatesUnlike the tsunami of 2004, the victims of the financial crisis aren’t so easy to visualize, said Wieczorek-Zeul, making it harder for governments to commit aid money. But there are victims. An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 children will die annually as a result of the crisis, she noted.

Zoellick stressed that for those in the developing world, the crisis isn’t a matter of losing your financial cushion—it’s a matter of eating, of going to school. And the impact won’t end when the crisis ends; it will be felt over a generation.

Responding to the crisis with economic isolationism and protectionism will only hurt everyone, especially the world’s poorest, Zoellick added.

Prime Minister Diogo warned that if we don’t act, there is a potential for instability. “Instability increases nervousness… poverty increases conflict,” said Geldof.

A number of panelists noted that the G20 meeting in London last month was the beginning of the basis for a new global architecture.

“We’re living through an historic period,” said Geldof. “It could all still collapse. There must be new rules for a new world. We must include the most vulnerable on this planet. If not, the 21st Century is up for grabs.”

“We all agree that a global problem requires a global solution with global ownership,” said Ahluwalia.

The debate airs on BBC World on Saturday, April 25.

(More photos at the Spring Meetings Flickr set.)

Development banks join together to provide funding for Latin America and the Caribbean

Sameer Vasta's picture

Pouring and weighing fresh milk. Colombia. Photo: © Edwin Huffman / World BankThis past Wednesday, leading development banks joined efforts to provide as much as US$90 billion during the next two years in a joint effort to spur economic growth in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

The Inter-American Development Bank and the Inter-American Investment Corporation, the World Bank Group (IBRD, IFC and MIGA), Corporacion Andina de Fomento, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration are all working together to explore new opportunities to protect the economic and social gains achieved in the region during the last five years.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick spoke about the importance of this joint effort:

"Latin America and the Caribbean have achieved substantial economic and social progress over the last five years and we must ensure that this is not lost because of the external shock of the global crisis. We need to avoid a social and human crisis."

For more information:

Meetings Center: Available in Spanish

Sameer Vasta's picture

Today, we had the pleasure of launching our Spanish version of the World Bank Meetings Center, El blog de las reuniones del Banco Mundial.

The Spanish version of the site, like the English, will feature links to press releases and stories, and also include commentary and short video interviews.

You can access the Spanish site by clicking on the "Espanol" on the top right of any page.

Bank President unveils plans to deal with fallout of economic crisis

Angie Gentile's picture

World Bank President Robert B. ZoellickSpeaking at a news conference this morning ahead of the start of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, Bank President Robert B. Zoellick hit on the need to address the second and third waves of economic fallout being felt in developing countries.

“First and foremost we need to ensure that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. When financial crises hit Latin America in the 1980s and in Asia in the 1990s…basic health, nutrition and education budgets were cut back severely. This time we must ensure that governments can protect targeted social expenditures and finance effective safety nets,” Zoellick said.

Nor can infrastructure be neglected, he said, citing the long-term negative consequences of slashing infrastructure investment during past crises. To help promote investment in roads, electricity, telecommunications, etc.--as a means of creating jobs and spurring economic growth--Zoellick said the Bank is planning a massive infrastructure initiative, to be formally launched on Saturday.

Zoellick also highlighted the Bank’s plans to boost support for agriculture—increasing lending from $4 billion in 2008 to $12 billion over the next two years to help ensure food security.

    

See more photos at the Spring Meetings 2009 Flickr set.

Watch President Zoellick's opening remarks at the news conference below:

Pages