Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announces resignation

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announces resignation

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is to step down next month, more than three years before his current term was due to expire, he announced on Monday. NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announces resignation

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced on Monday he would step down next month, more than three years before his current term was due to expire.

The decision is likely to give US President Donald Trump decisive influence over the next leadership of the institution although Washington’s control over the 189-member global development lender has faced mounting criticism.

“It has been a great honour to serve as president of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime,” Kim, 59, said in a statement.

Kim, who became the bank’s president in 2012, is set to join an as-yet unnamed firm focusing on investments in developing countries, the bank said in a statement, and will return to the board of Partners In Health, a non-profit group he co-founded.

World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva will serve as interim president upon Kim’s February 1 departure, the bank said in a statement.

Under Kim, the bank set the goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and ramped up financing to developing countries.

Last year, it also won Trump administration support approval for a steep $13 billion capital increase after acceding to Washington’s requests to curb loans to higher-income countries like China.

In a note to staff, Kim said he had long felt the private sector was best suited to meeting the developing world’s financing needs.

“I have therefore decided that it’s time for me to take on new challenges and fully focus my efforts on leveraging private finance for the benefit of people around the world,” he wrote.

The unwritten rule

During Kim’s tenure, the bank also emphasised its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, which critics said increasingly channelled funds to projects that otherwise would not have met World Bank environmental and social guidelines.

The bank’s board thanked Kim for his leadership and said in a statement it would “immediately” begin the process of looking for the next president.

On Twitter, International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde expressed “deep appreciation” for Kim’s work.

Naming Kim’s replacement could mark a sharp break with the past as the Trump administration has repeatedly broken with multilateral institutions and conventions of which the president has been highly critical.

Kim however championed a $1 billion fund for women’s entrepreneurship in an effort driven by Trump’s daughter Ivanka, a senior White House adviser.

Under an unwritten rule, the bank’s presidency has always been anointed by its largest shareholder, the US, an arrangement that also allowed European powers to name the head of the IMF.

Nevertheless, when he was nominated for a first term in 2012, Kim was the first US nominee to face a challenger when Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala entered the contest.

Perhaps warding off challengers and avoiding a repeat of 2012, the administration of former President Barack Obama in 2016 swiftly endorsed Kim for a second five-year term, which began in 2017.

However, the bank’s staff association in 2016 delivered a stinging broadside, citing high levels of disaffection among its 15,000 employees, asserting that it faced a “crisis of leadership” and calling for an end to “back-room deals” over control of the institution.

World Bank staff also chafed at a widespread internal restructuring that Kim began, as well as spending and staff cuts.

Internal staff surveys showed the rank and file frequently did not trust senior management and said they did not understand the direction in which the institution was headed.

A Treasury spokesperson on Monday praised CEO Georgieva’s “capable leadership” and said Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin “looks forward to working with his fellow governors in selecting a leader.”

But Paul Cadario, a former World Bank senior manager now at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, noted that the Trump administration had not named a representative to the bank’s board of directors – meaning the question was likely not high on the administration’s radar.

Yet other World Bank shareholders, such as the UK, major European economies or China, are likely too preoccupied with political and economic crises of their own to step into any vacuum left by Washington, he said.

“The American executive director has always been a leader of the board.

MOST VIEWED

  • Website advises travellers to stay clear of Angkor Wat

    An Australian website has advised travellers to avoid Angkor Wat during their trip to Southeast Asia because the ancient temple is showing signs of rapid erosion and faced water management issues. In a recent article entitled Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Passenger taxi boat ridership sinks despite free services

    Passenger taxi boat traffic has dropped by about five per cent compared to the same period last year, despite the government providing free service for garment workers until next year, Phnom Penh Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority director Ean Sokhim said on Monday. In 2018, the Phnom

  • Kingdom drafting new law to strengthen immigration

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday said it had formed a working group to draft amendments to the Law on Immigration. Its secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post that the amendments will strengthen the management of immigrants in line with the current situation.

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that

  • Jica seeks to turn PP, towns into smart cities

    Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) representatives have sought support from Siem Reap’s Apsara National Authority (ANA) to transform the ancient capital into a smart city. The call was made in February last year after the government approved three cities to join the Asean Smart