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UK attacks American grip on World Bank

The United States’ stewardship of the World Bank should be ended and the institution given a major overhaul, Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, will say today.

The bank has had a US president throughout its 50-year history. But in a speech highly critical of the World Bank’s reaction to past economic downturns, Mr Alexander will say that the American stranglehold has stopped it from having the best candidate at the helm. “The Bank must recognise the changing economic balance of power and be more representative and accountable in the future,” he will say at the Chatham House think-tank.

“By the World Bank’s own admission, it did not do enough in previous crises to help and protect the poorest.” Mr Alexander will criticise the World Bank for being slow to react and hampered by bureaucracy. He will demand that it go beyond its pledge to triple its lending to $35bn this year.