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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

A chart showing that IFC spend is concentrated in middle-income countries

Making the International Finance Corporation Relevant

Philippe Le Houerou, the Chief Executive of the IFC has announced his intention to step down in September. His legacy will include a significant effort to focus the work of the corporation on development impact and the world’s poorest countries. Le Houerou has had some success. But a look at IFC’s portfolio suggests how far the institution still has to go to have the biggest impact.

A pile of money, giftwrapped. Adobe Stock.

Development Finance Institutions Should Be Instruments of Public Policy, Not Private Gain

The World Bank Group has some very clear (and very good) guidelines about what makes for a successful public-private partnership where governments contract service provision like energy supply or education from private firms. Sadly, the bank has been ignoring that rule recently. And that is a sign of a broader problem in donor-backed financing of public-private partnership deals.

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Lending Practices of the Private Sector Window: How Effective are They?

The Private Sector Window (PSW) takes resources from the World Bank’s soft lending arm, the International Development Association (IDA), and uses it to support private sector investments in poorer developing countries.This is a comparatively straightforward way for the IFC to move money, but it is hard to know if it is a good way, in part because of the Corporation’s opaque lending practices –which need to change.

Philippe Le Houérou at the WEF. Photo by World Economic Forum / Jakob Polacsek

Aid Transparency and Subsidies to Private Companies: A First Step, But a Long Road Ahead

Today the IFC announced a step forward in its transparency around the use of aid resources to finance private companies. That’s right and proper: When scarce aid, and scarce tax resources, are used to support private firms, citizens of donor countries and recipient countries alike have a right to know where the money is going to and how generous the terms. A number of us at CGD had been calling for greater transparency around subsidies to the private sector from the IFC and other development finance institutions, so this is a welcome first step. However, a few aspects have might be cause for concern.

The World Bank Group's headquarters

Congress Spotlights the World Bank’s Private Sector Subsidies

Yesterday, the House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing with US Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin on the international financial system. Chairwoman Maxine Waters opened the session with a strong statement on the World Bank’s $2.5 billion IDA Private Sector Window (PSW). Chairwoman Waters raises important concerns with the Private Sector Window that should be urgently addressed.

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A Review of the Mid-Term Review of the IDA Private Sector Window

A few weeks ago, the World Bank’s soft-lending arm IDA held the mid-term review of its 18th round of funding. As background for the meeting, the World Bank produced a status update of the new IDA Private Sector Window (PSW) that I have blogged about before. The update provides valuable insight into how the $2.5 billion of PSW funding is being used at the halfway mark of its spending cycle but leaves some big unknowns.

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Redesigning the IDA Private Sector Window for Impact: Some Principles and Potential Practices

I have previously suggested that the current design of the $2.5 billion World Bank/IDA Private Sector Window (PSW) seemed an inefficient use of scarce aid resources, didn’t follow the World Bank’s own guidance on disclosure and design of subsidies to the private sector, and is noncompetitive, nontransparent, and unstructured. In this blog post, I offer some ideas on how the World Bank Group could reconstruct the PSW towards real development impact in the next round of IDA funding, to be negotiated in 2019.

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