Be Partners, Not Preachers: Indonesia Tells WB

SINGAPORE ~ The World Bank and IMF must act as “partners, not preachers” and stop sending in teams from Washington to find problems and prescribe solutions, Indonesia’s central bank chief said.

Central bank governor Mulyani Indrawati also said the sister institutions should refrain from attaching narrowly defined conditions to assistance.

While the IMF and World Bank’s experience can help, “the era is over when big missions are needed to fly out from Washington to diagnose our problems and suggest solutions all within two weeks,” Indrawati said on Tuesday.

In candid remarks at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meetings in Singapore, she said the bank needs to work in partnership with local groups.

“We need more people on the ground who can work with us, side by side, at our pace, meeting our deadlines and facing our pressures,” she said, echoing a common criticism of the Bank and the IMF, which are both based in Washington.

“If you want to help us improve governance, start by changing the way the Bank works on the frontlines,” Indrawati said.

She said that if the Bank wanted countries to be open about corruption, then the institution needed to be more transparent about its graft investigations.

Indrawati said the World Bank should understand that many governments do not have perfect plans to improve governance.

Indonesia was among the countries that received multibillion-dollar bailouts from the IMF during the Asian financial crisis in 1997 but many of the conditions tied to the loans were criticized for exacerbating poverty in Southeast Asia’s biggest country.

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