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Waters Pushes for Strong U.S. Leadership Position at the World Bank

Today, at a Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee entitled “Examining Results and Accountability at the World Bank,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, gave the following opening statement:

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you. I would like to welcome our witnesses here today to discuss one of the very important issues within our jurisdiction, which is oversight of U.S. participation in the multilateral development banks (MDBs), including the World Bank.

There is by now widespread agreement that poverty in the developing world is one of the major challenges facing the world today. While the success of some countries over the past fifty years have shown that development is possible, the failures elsewhere have shown that it is not inevitable.

I believe that the criticism of the World Bank that we’ll hear today should be understood within a context that also recognizes the great deal of progress the Bank has made in many areas over the past few decades – in large part due to pressure from civil society, from individual governments, from parliaments, including the U.S. Congress and, in particular, from this Committee itself.

Over the years, this Committee has successfully insisted upon much more transparency and disclosure of information from the World Bank.

Many years ago, we conditioned U.S. support for the Bank on the creation of the Inspection Panel -- an independent accountability mechanism that could investigate allegations by citizens of the Bank’s failure to follow its own policies and procedures.

Working in a bipartisan fashion, we successfully pushed for debt relief -- and then for better and more effective debt relief, for impoverished countries.

We’ve also pushed for less burdensome conditionality and more attention to the social dimension that must be present when decisions about development assistance are made.

I welcome both the criticism and the recommendations that our witnesses will make today, which, in my view, means that you’ll also be making the case for strong U.S. leadership within the Bank, and for more vigorous Congressional oversight, and for this Committee, in particular, to take a more active role in helping to shape the development policies that have helped make the World Bank the preeminent development institution that it has become.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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