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NFTC and Development Finance International Urge Congress to Recognize Need for World Bank Reform
Date: 8/2/2007
Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, 202-822-9491

Willkens Says Private Sector Interaction Key to Achieving Bank’s Overall Mission


Washington DC ­- In testimony today before the Senate Banking Committee, Diane Willkens, President and CEO of Development Finance International, Inc. (DFI) and member of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) World Bank working group, stressed the need for increased private sector input and transparency in policy making at the World Bank.


 “With the shift in the World Bank’s relative importance given the abundance of capital liquidity around the globe, it is in the Bank’s own interest to find new flexible ways of working with others, including the private sector,” Willkens stated in remarks delivered on behalf of both the NFTC and DFI. “The World Bank should better recognize that the private sector is both a key stakeholder and enabler of sound economic development. It should incorporate the private sector into its planning and operations.”


For example, Willkens noted that many successful U.S. corporations have proven best practices that could be leveraged appropriately to achieve the Bank’s goals of increased economic growth and development worldwide. Willkens acknowledged past circumstances where the Bank has called for private sector input but noted that industry should be “viewed more as a partner than as an afterthought in the development of major new policies.”


In addition to working more strategically with the private sector, Willkens also highlighted the need for the Bank to reform and fortify its internal policies. “The Bank should push forward with critical initiatives on governance and anti-corruption. It should strengthen its role in promoting accountable and transparent practices, especially in procurement, which is an area that is most susceptible to corruption on both the demand and supply side,” Willkens stated.


“The private sector from the U.S. and several European countries has been very concerned about recent developments to abandon World Bank international best practices in procurement policies that effectively lower Bank standards on international competitive bids and adopt a more hands-off approach,” Willkens continued. “These moves go against the Bank’s recent important overall initiatives on anticorruption and improved governance.”


In early June, the NFTC joined six other leading trade associations in urging the Bank to allow feedback from the private sector regarding its newest proposal for changes in procurement polices. The World Bank’s “Use of Country Systems in Bank Supported Operations” Status Report dated May 8, 2007, was released to the Bank’s Executive Directors in June without any opportunity for the private sector to review and provide input. 


Willkens concluded, “The challenges facing the World Bank are many as the institution defines its changing role. The private sector is committed to working with the Bank in constructive approaches to the development challenges and opportunities before us.”


Please click here for a copy of the testimony.

Advancing Global Commerce for Over 90 Years

The National Foreign Trade Council ( is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.