A Milestone: World Bank Lending Hits $100 Billion

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 4/16/2010 12:12:00 AM
Egadzooks, I don't know how I've managed to miss this (apologies; even if practically everyone else has too) but World Bank lending has hit a milestone in reaching $100 billion worth of outstanding projects. While the institution has been elbowed out of the limelight by a newly active IMF during a global financial crisis--besides not having leadership prone to lurid affairs [1, 2] before that--rest assured that it hasn't been sleeping on the job.

Yes, it's one thing to shovel lots of money out the door and another to have results to show for doing so. In the past, World Bank leadership has been criticized for having precisely that kind of mentality of just turning over donor cash. At any rate, here's the blurb from the World Bank making much about establishing social safety nets in the wake of the aforementioned crisis:
World Bank Group financial commitments since July 2008, just before the full fury of the financial crisis hit, reached US$ 100 billion today as the institution helped countries respond to and recover from the global downturn. This support is an all-time high for the global development Bank and includes safety nets for the poor, infrastructure to create jobs and build a foundation for recovery, agriculture to support small farmers, and microfinance to help small and micro enterprises.

After the worst crisis in 50 years, the world economy faces an uncertain and uneven recovery with new risks to jobs and growth. The World Bank Group is playing a historically large role in protecting the poor and laying the foundation of recovery.

The speed and scale of the Bank’s response since July 2008 is unprecedented. World Bank (IBRD and IDA) lending to health and social services increased significantly from $1.6 billion in FY08 to $6.3 billion in FY 09 and to $5.1 billion in just the first nine months of FY 10. Bank commitments supporting social safety net programs for the poorest and most vulnerable citizens in the poorest countries increased exponentially from $253m in FY08 to $3.1 billion in FY09 and to $2.1 billion to date in FY10.

"I'm very pleased the World Bank Group has stepped up and delivered during the economic crisis. Our developing country partners know that we will assist them in their development needs," said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. "As the multi-speed recovery takes shape around the world, countries will face recurring and new challenges, and the World Bank will continue to provide support to overcome poverty and foster sustainable growth."

Since July 2008, the World Bank supported 497 projects to promote economic growth, fight poverty, and assist private businesses, including $28 billion in infrastructure financing, a critical sector to provide the foundation for rapid recovery from the crisis, job creation and future productivity and growth. As expected, Bank commitments to the financial sector also increased greatly compared to FY08 commitments, accounting for 15% of total commitments since FY09 (through April 6, 2010).