World Bank Downsizing Office

The World Bank office in Nepal is downsizing in a move that will have significant impacts in the long run despite claims by officials that the multilateral donor agency was initiating a process to make its operations more efficient<br>A CORRESSPONDEN

June 17, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 05 No.-1 June 17-2011 (Ashar 03,2068)

Be it a coincidence or the country’s declining importance, Nepal is gradually losing its capacity to mobilise aid in the international level. The recent decision of the World Bank to downsize its operations in Nepal is an indication of this. The WB, however, has said it initiated a worldwide process to make its operations efficient.

The World Bank has announced merger of Nepal and Bangladesh country director positions to increase efficiency and achieve greater synergies between the bank offices and staff based in the South Asian region.

“We have conveyed to the Government of Nepal that our office in Kathmandu will remain operational and fully staffed under the leadership of a new Country Manager, who will be permanently stationed in Kathmandu to serve Nepal’s needs,” said Susan Goldmark, the World Bank Country Director for Nepal.

A press statement issued by the multilateral donor agency said other  large World Bank programs in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and East Asia have already undergone similar changes. The statement added that the decision by World Bank senior management is guided purely by internal needs and is in line with management’s efforts, over many years, at consolidation.

Though experts say that the decision of the World Bank to downsize its office in Nepal and oversee Nepal operations from its Dhaka-based office could weaken the country’s capacity to mobilize aid, the World Bank has assured that forthcoming changes will not affect its programs in Nepal.

“Over the past four years we have significantly strengthened our presence in Kathmandu and the size of our portfolio has grown four-fold. These internal changes won’t affect the volume of Bank assistance to Nepal. The volume of assistance has always been determined by Nepal’s development policies, performance and economic management. That’s the way it has been and that’s the way it will remain,” the statement quoted Goldmark, the World Bank Country Director for Nepal, as saying.

“Nepal remains an important partner for the World Bank,” Goldmark further said. A year ago, International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its Nepal office. Three months ago, United Nations High Commission for Human Rights downgraded Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission to B Grade.

INGOs Problems

If things go like these, many International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs), which bring more than 10 billion rupees annually to implement programs to uplift the poor people of Nepal, are also in the process of scaling down their offices in Nepal.

Since the last one year, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare has held the project documents submitted for clearance to implement development projects in various parts of Nepal. Due to delay in the clearance process, many INGOs are compelled to withdraw the projects.

Although the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare is said to have started giving clearances to the projects, the damage has already been done to Nepal as many international donor communities have raised the question of Nepal’s credibility.

“If the government continues to delay the process, many INGOs have no options other than to pull out or downgrade their position in Nepal. This will badly affect development projects directed to the poor people of Nepal,” said a senior official of an INGO. For the programs and projects implemented by INGOs complementing and supplementing the government’s development projects, the Ministry needs to give clearances quickly so that projects are implemented in time. Registered with Social Welfare Council, INGOs have been active partners of Nepal’s overall development activities for long time.“We are aware about the situation and the Ministry has already started the process to give the clearance to the projects pending in the Ministry,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity. “We don’t understand the reason behind holding the files of development works for such a long period of time.”

Nepal has suffered a lot in the last three years gradually losing its own stature and capacity to moblise aid. If Nepal does not work
carefully, it will have to face more shocking decisions from the international community.Please type your text here.

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