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.