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World Bank, IMF End Meetings in Washington


The World Bank and International Monetary Fund concluded their spring meetings Sunday in Washington.

Corruption and good government were the overriding themes of the final session of the World Bank - International Monetary Fund's meetings in Washington.

World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz called aid effectiveness and good government "twin issues" in the battle to help the world's poorest people. "Efforts to improve aid effectiveness cannot be separated from strengthening governance systems," he said. "When governance systems fail, service provision weakens, corruption increases and growth is undermined."

Colombia's Finance Ministers Alberto Carrasquilla serves as the chairman of the joint World Bank / IMF Development Committee. He said nations are looking to the international lenders for guidance to governing. "Members called on the bank to lay out a broad strategy for helping member countries strengthen governance and deepen the fight against corruption," he said.

Bank President Wolfowitz said partners discussed the need for a common approach to improving and monitoring government. He added they will work in the coming months to develop a framework for such a single approach, and it will be discussed at the annual meeting set for September in Singapore.

On the issue of energy, Carrasquilla said there is broad support for a Bank proposal to focus on the energy needs of developing countries, efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions and to help developing countries adapt to the realities of climate change.

Earlier in the day, chief scientist of the World Bank, Robert Watson, said hundreds of billions of dollars need to be invested in developing and transition countries annually for the next 25 years.

Vice President for Infrastructure Katherine Sierra says the Bank will increase investments in renewable energy sources such as hydropower and solar power.

"The World Bank is one of the largest financiers of renewable energies. We have made a commitment to increase our lending for renewable energies by 20 percent per year over the coming years and we're meeting that commitment," said Sierra. "We feel very strongly that renewables should be part of the solution."

Sierra emphasized that traditional fossil fuels will still be utilized.

Director for Energy and Water Jamal Saghir stressed the need to balance the desire for cleaner, greener energy with the fact that that more than one billion people do not even have access to electricity.

"When we talk about 1.6 billion without access to electricity with 500 million are in africa, sub-Saharan africa, where the access to electricity is less than 10 percent, the question is a question of scale," he said. "Can you scale up with clean energy? Yes, that is what we are saying."

Meanwhile, outside the IMF and World Bank, streets were cordoned off by security on this final day of meetings. There were no signs of protesters near the buildings, a far cry from previous years. Roads were quiet except for the occasional jogger taking advantage of traffic free streets.

A journalist elicited laughs from Wolfowitz when he suggested the lack of protests is a sign that the bodies had been doing a good job.