Waigel calls for EBRD shake-up

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The Independent Online
THE CONTINUED existence of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in its present form was questioned yesterday by Theo Waigel, German finance minister and outgoing EBRD chairman.

Speaking on the final day of what has proved a stormy annual meeting for Jacques Attali, president of the EBRD, Mr Waigel said that bickering between the merchant banking and development banking arms was giving cause for concern. The EBRD 'must reassess its own structure to improve efficiency'.

The barrage of criticism over the bank's extravagant spending promped an emotional response from Mr Attali. He revealed that eight months ago he had thought of leaving the bank. 'I was tired of the job. But I was persuaded otherwise by close friends because the dream was not in place.

'Now I will not quit. I have to put (the bank) on cruise speed. I'm not here for the power and the glory. The bank is about the future of our children, my children. This baby will begin to walk, sometimes fall. I will let it go when I think it can walk.'

Mr Waigel's concern also led Mr Attali to say he was contemplating organisational changes, including the possibility of a chief executive.

Mr Attali said he also proposed to bolster control over the budget and suggested that the merchant and development banking arms might need to be merged.

'I suppose that when an institution matures the president must take a stronger approach on strategy and let the operations live their own life,' Mr Attali added.