Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Can the World Bank improve poverty?

How can the World Bank improve poverty when it avoids independent evaluation of its programs? Professor Adam Lerrick of Carnegie Mellon, published by Cato Institute, reports that WB has its own captive audit department which delivers glowing reports about every program. It has rejected suggestions that a truly independent group be assigned to audit its programs. Instead it renamed its internal evaluation group to be the "Independent Evaluation Department." And no one is allowed access to the data to undertake their own evaluations. The following is from an email from Cato. I will look for an on-line version when my internet access improves.
The optimism of weighty reports cannot cover up the realities on the ground. The living standards of the poorest nations have stagnated and even declined as much as 25 percent.1 Thirty-eight countries have amassed $71 billion in unpayable multilateral loans, encouraged by the bank’s self-serving projections of country growth, on which rich country taxpayers must now make good. Corruption has been exposed both within the bank and in its programs and is now estimated at more than $100 billion.2 Protest is rising among leading African scholars who seek to stop all aid because it serves only to entrench and enrich a series of corrupt elites. Massive anecdotal evidence of waste, ineptitude, and outright theft can no longer be ignored. The bank gives itself good marks and boasts that more than three-quarters of projects completed had “satisfactory outcomes.”3 But when the auditors are captive, when the timing of judgment is premature, when the criteria are faulty, and when the numbers are selectively manipulated—how credible are the conclusions?
And a footnote points out:
Aid was not the moving force behind the impressive gains in China, India, and Indonesia where virtually all progress in developing-country living standards has occurred.
And it is your money that they are using: $2.5 billion per year for the next 40 years is from US taxpayers.

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