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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.

 

An aerial view of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo by Dominic Chavez / World Bank

“Spend What It Takes” to Respond to COVID-19 in Poor Countries, Too

It is now only a question of when, not if, the COVID-19 pandemic will exact its human and economic toll on the poor and developing countries of South Asia, Africa, and Latin America the way it is already ravaging East Asia, Europe, and North America. And when it does, they too will need to respond with exceptional heath and financial measures in the face of this unprecedented global challenge.

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.

Image of data and connections

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.

IFC's headquarters. Photo via wikimedia

IFC’s Accountability Review Is Welcome but Must Translate to Action

International Finance Corporation CEO Philippe Le Houerou announced that the IFC’s board will undertake a review of its accountability mechanisms, including the office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman. The announcement is timely. By initiating a review, IFC’s Board is taking the first step toward a more transparent and accountable operating structure. 

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.

Parting Words: Stephen Groff on His Tenure at the Asian Development Bank

With Jim Kim’s abrupt departure from the World Bank, there has been a swirl of commentary on questions of legacy, the best of which aim to answer the question, “how is the bank doing?” For large multilateral institutions like the World Bank, that’s a frustratingly difficult question to answer. Seemingly objective measures like volume of financing or sectoral targets are simplistic and bring their own value judgements about what the institution should be doing. Annual reports give us a narrative about institutional performance, but a heavily biased one.

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