World Bank chief calls for finance ministers to work across borders

12 Oct 15

International finance ministers should work together to improve key services in developing countries, according to the head of the World Bank.

Speaking at the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Lima, Peru, the bank’s president Jim Yong Kim said every country wants to collect tax more efficiently so it can spend more on services such as health and education.

But while many developing countries had inefficient tax systems and could potentially benefit from World Bank support, he recognised that governments need to go further and consider alternative funding strategies, including private investment.

“A global strategic view has not happened before,” Kim told delegates during a debate on sustainable development on October 9.

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon said it was important that countries directed domestic resources towards initiatives to end poverty and tackle climate change, but not all countries could afford that.

Global partnership, he pointed out, is the last of the 17 sustainable development goals agreed at the UN last month. That included governments working with private investors. “Never before have I seen such engagement by the private sector,” he added.

Both men praised the UK for being one of only five countries in the world that is devoting 0.7% of its GDP to international aid.

Speaking in the same debate, UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening said it made economic success to help countries avoid conflict. “For every £1 you invest keeping a country peaceful and preserving stability, you can waste £4 on war.”

The Syrian war and consequent increase in refugees in Europe and the Middle East meant it was no longer possible to distinguish between spending money on emergency situations and development.

“Many countries are now in the middle. They are in a protracted crisis,” she said. “We need to help them cope with that and help refugees get on with their lives.”

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