Letter: Too much secrecy over World Bank and IMF

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The Independent Online
Sir: Richard Dowden is quite wrong to suggest that UK aid agencies have let the Government off the hook over the World Bank ('Let's ask what aid is for', 5 October). One problem is that nobody knows where the Government stands on detailed aid agency criticisms of the bank.

The UK plays a key role on the board of the World Bank as one of only five countries with a guaranteed place. More than 10 per cent of UK aid spending goes directly to the bank, and a substantial proportion of bilateral lending is tied to World Bank or IMF programmes.

But Parliament has little or no opportunity to scrutinise the work of the bank and the fund, and the actions of its representative, the executive director. Aid agencies here in Madrid have met Huw Evans, the UK executive director, but how he votes on issues about dams, participation or reset-

tlement remains top secret.

Christian Aid is calling on the UK Government to make public the voting record and directives that it sends to the World Bank and the IMF, and to agree to an annual debate in Parliament. How we tackle poverty is too important an issue to be kept under wraps.

Yours faithfully,

JESSICA WOODROFFE

Christian Aid

Madrid

6 October

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