‘The World Bank has made a huge difference.’
Shaukat Tarin, a leading banker and former finance minister, speaks to SouthAsia.
What are your views regarding the performance of the World Bank in light of its commitments – and what difference has it made?
The World Bank has over the years provided long-term financing on very soft terms to the developing countries for its social sector as well as infrastructure projects, which this may not have been available from the commercial sector.
The World Bank has made a huge difference as it has enabled countries to fund their health, education and, infrastructure as well as governance improvement structures as they have developed.
The World Bank has exercised much of its influence in conjunction with the IMF, but this arrangement too has been weakened. Do you agree?
I do not think the partnership between the World Bank and the IMF has weakened. They work hand in glove where required.
What should be the World Bank’s top three global priorities?
I would consider the following as the top three priorities for the World Bank: a) Putting in place and strengthening proper governance structures. These should include all facets of governance, including political, economic and social sectors. b) Supporting development of the social sector, i.e. health, education and poverty alleviation. c) Providing support at concessional rates for the development of infrastructure. Moreover, it should help the countries to establish financial institutions to support such initiatives. The World Bank should also support public-private partnership policy frameworks in these countries.
Does Pakistan really need to go to the IMF?
In the present circumstances, it has to go to the IMF to get some cash as well as to give confidence to other multilateral and bilateral agencies to provide the same.
However, in the long run we need to improve our economic governance to achieve sustainable and equitable economic growth to eliminate poverty, unemployment and inequality from our society. This will also result in the elimination of the scourge of terrorism.
The World Bank will provide funds to Pakistan towards its flood relief effort. Do you think Pakistan should go to the WB for a more holistic assistance program in this regard?
Yes. We should prepare a holistic plan to tackle this issue; including construction of dams, waterways, etc. and then involve the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank to contribute towards its implementation.
Water will become a major issue as we move into this century and we need to pay attention to not only avoid flood damages, but also how to conserve and better utilize our water resources.
Shaukat Tarin is a founding member of the Silkbank and currently works as an advisor to the CEO of the Bank. A seasoned banker, Tarin has worked for various national and international banks. His longest association was with Citibank where he worked for 22 years and served as the bank’s Country Manager. He also headed the Habib Bank and the Union Bank and is regarded as a pioneer of consumer banking in Pakistan. He also served as the Chairman of the Karachi Stock Exchange for two terms.