WASHINGTON, April 11, 2012 (AFP) - The US nominee to lead the World Bank,
public health expert Jim Yong Kim, promised to bring a listening ear and
objectivity as he met with Bank directors in an interview Wednesday.
"If I were entrusted with the responsibility of leading this institution,
you would find in me someone who asks hard questions about the status quo and
is not afraid to challenge existing orthodoxies," Kim said in a statement to
the development lenders' board of directors, released by the Treasury
"You'd also find someone interested in listening -- to the Board, to our
clients, to staff both here and in the field and to stakeholders in the
private sector and civil society," said Kim, a physician and president of
Kim is the last of the three candidates to be interviewed by the board this
week in a race that, for the first time in the more than 60-year history of
the World Bank, has a challenge to the US nominee.
The board will meet Monday to choose the next president, a source close to
the board told AFP.
Kim is all but certain to be named the successor of president Robert
Zoellick, who is stepping down at the end of his five-year term in June.
Under a tacit agreement, the US picks the World Bank president, always an
American, and Europe puts a European at the helm of the International Monetary
Fund, the Bank's sister institution.
That arrangement is under fire from developing countries as they seek a
greater voice in the 187-nation sister institutions to reflect their growing
importance in the global economy.
The World Bank board kicked off the round of candidate interviews Monday
with Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Bank managing
On Tuesday the board met with Jose Antonio Ocampo, an economics professor
at Columbia University in New York. The Colombian national is a former finance
Kim, who has a long track record in global health issues, including work at
the World Health Organization against HIV/AIDS, has been on a globe-spanning
whirl dubbed a "listening tour" by the US government to drum up support.
In his statement to the board, Kim said in his talks with executive
directors and governors he had heard "concerns regarding whether this latest
round of reforms and reorientation is sufficient to enable the Bank to rise to
meet the next set of challenges facing its members and clients."
"A strong and common theme is that clients and shareholders, wherever they
come from, value the Bank yet also expect much more from it," he said.
"They want the Bank to take smarter and better-managed risks. They are
committed to the mission and the mandate, but believe change is needed to make
the Bank truly fit for its essential purpose."
"I'd bring rigor, objectivity, and a focus on data that help all of us
define and achieve our shared vision of securing strong economic growth and
delivering greater opportunity for the world's poor," he said.
The Bank plans to select the next president by consensus before April 20,
the start of the World Bank's spring meetings with the IMF.