World Bank corruption strategy may backfire, says CAFOD

 A new CAFOD report out today warns that the World Bank could hinder rather than help the fight against corruption if it forces through its latest anti-corruption strategy. The `agency says that the World Bank has drawn up the strategy behind closed doors and unless it starts working with developing country organisations the strategy could backfire. The report - The World Bank's Strategy on Governance and Anticorruption: a civil society perspective - draws on the survey responses of 56 partners around the world. The report argues that the World Bank is mainly interested in protecting its own resources and reputation. The agency believes this strategy risks weakening countries' governance systems and their ability to deal with corruption. The report cites examples of how Bank interference has hurt the most vulnerable people as well as corruption in Bank projects. CAFOD is urging the UK Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn, to use his position as a World Bank Governor to veto the strategy at the Bank's Singapore meetings next week. He must ensure that broad consultation takes place with people in developing nations leading the fight against corruption. CAFOD partners surveyed are worried that the Bank's new strategy will be a one-size-fits-all model, which may do more harm than good. Katindi Sivi of the Institute of Economic Affairs in Nairobi said: "If you wear someone else's shoe it will pinch." Partners are also worried that the Bank's strategy loads extra conditions onto countries receiving loans and this will mean that governments are more beholden and accountable to the World Bank rather than their own peoples. George Gelber CAFOD Head of Policy said: "The World Bank's obsession with corruption risks undermining any chance the people have of holding their own governments to account. "Over 20 years ago the World Bank developed a model of poverty reduction without taking local realities into account. This is now generally considered to have failed, within the Bank itself and the wider community. They are trying to do exactly the same thing in their approach to corruption and the outcome can only be the same disappointment, possibly with severe consequences." Fighting corruption is a priority for CAFOD and its partners. However, both express deep concern about the Bank's own track record on corruption. The report looks at a case in Pakistan where a World Bank funded hydroelectric scheme has created an environment for corruption, where the only means to access electricity is to pay baksheesh to the local electricity supplier. Stephen Mutoro a Kenyan Civil Society leader said: ""World Bank and other multi-laterals are not immune to internal corruption. We are calling on the Bank to equally put its act together in order to win back its moral authority and trust from ordinary taxpayers towards fighting corruption." George Gelber said: "Integrity and transparency are the pillars of fighting corruption: our survey shows that the people in developing countries don't believe the Bank has either. Only the public can hold their governments to account and so this closed process is particularly inappropriate. The World Bank's efforts to consult civil society on this strategy have been laughable."

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