World Bank:What awaits Jim Yong Kim?

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By  Jenny Lei Ravelo

Incoming president of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim (center) shares a laugh with U.S. President Barack Obama (foreground) and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Kim will officially take his seat on July 2. Photo by: Pete Souza / White House

Even before the incoming president of the World Bank officially takes his seat Monday (July 2), the challenges thrown at his desk have already started to pile up.

A number of people have been calling for reforms at the bank, from how senior officials are chosen to the way the financial institution does business. The problems that hound the bank, according to investigative financial journalist Richard Behar, are: philosophical, structural and cultural.

The bank needs to define its role in the 21st century. Should it continue lending to China, which, Behar writes in an article for Forbes, sends the money to another country — in turn “winning extra global clout?”

Jim Yong Kim also needs to improve the way the bank tracks its money. Corruption inside the institution, according to numerous bank officials Behar had spoken to, “continues unabated.” In addition, the bank should address negative reports or news instead of covering them up. The bank, Behar alleges, buried a report that found a “dramatic dip in the quality — meaning effectiveness, impact and results — of bank projects over the past five years.”

Oxfam, meanwhile, challenges Kim to accomplish the following during his five-year term:

  • Ensure 15 million more children in sub-Saharan Africa go to school.
  • Ensure 200 million more people have access to free health care and medicines.
  • Ensure no one person loses his land due to the bank’s agricultural investments.

The International Monetary Fund “is bailing out Europe. The World Bank needs to step in and shore up poor countries,” Oxfam GB chief executive Barbara Stocking said in a press release.

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