‘The World Bank has made a huge dif­fer­ence.’

Shaukat Tarin, a lead­ing banker and for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter, speaks to SouthAsia.

Southasia - - OPINION -

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.

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