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Is the World Bank fit for purpose?

From governance issues to mounting competition, the World Bank faces myriad challenges, but its proponents remain convinced of its importance to the modern world.

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While the World Bank’s lending has been largely depoliticized since the end of the Cold War, the political influence over its governance and shareholder structure has been a topic of heated argument more or less since its foundation.

Today, the US remains by far the largest shareholder in the Bank, with close to 16% of its voting rights, which unsurprisingly raises hackles throughout the non-governmental organization community and elsewhere.

“The selection procedure and governance structure reflect the fact that powerful shareholders have been using the Bank and its financing policies to further their own interest,” says María José Romero, policy and advocacy officer at the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad).

This was hard enough to argue with before 2019. It has been even harder since April, when the former Bear Stearns chief economist and US Treasury official David Malpass was appointed as the 13th president of the World Bank.