Social services


US Congresswoman criticises World Bank investments in water privatisation

29 June 2016

In April US Congresswoman Gwen Moore, ranking member of a subcommittee overseeing World Bank activities, wrote a letter to the Bank’s president Jim Yong Kim voicing concerns about “water resource privatisation in developing countries”. In the letter Moore raised doubts over whether “the current ring-fencing policies separating the investment and advising functions of the IFC [International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector lending arm] are adequate”. She criticised a potential conflict of interests between the Bank’s promotion of water privatisation policies in the Philippines, and the IFC’s lending to a private company that benefitted from this process (see Bulletin Dec 13). Moore urged that the Bank Group “cease promoting and funding privatisation of water resources, including so-called ‘public-private partnerships’ (PPPs) in the water sector, until there has been a robust outside evaluation of the IFC’s conflicts policy and practices and an opportunity for additional congressional hearings on the subject.”

Moore reported that in response to her letter, the IFC sent a letter and Bank officials met with members of her team. Commenting to news agency Associated Press an IFC spokesperson declared that the World Bank Group “takes real or perceived conflicts of interests very seriously”, and argued that the IFC’s role in advising the privatisation deal in the Philippines was completed several years before it invested in the private water company .

Commenting on Moore’s letter in the Huffington Post, Shayda Naficy of US-based NGO Corporate Accountability International, said: “The World Bank is stacking the deck, dealing the cards and placing all the bets, putting profits above human need. For years it has ignored the concerns of those most affected by this blind pursuit, but with Congress asking questions, it can no longer pursue this path with impunity.”