Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President, announced on Monday (7/1), that he will be departing from his position as President of the organization, effective as of February 1st, more than three years ahead of the expiration of his term in 2022. Kim also announced his decision to join a position at Global Infrastructure Partners, a private-equity firm based in New York City. Kristalina Georgieva, former EU commissioner who is now the bank’s chief executive officer, will take over as interim president of the World Bank when Kim steps down next month. Kim’s decision to quit the job for the private sector was described by sources close to the bank as a shocking decision that surprised the whole organization and its shareholders - the 189 nations that support its work.
Kim himself said in his resignation statement, “It has been a great honour to serve as president of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime. The World Bank Group is more important now than ever as the aspirations of the poor rise all over the world and problems like climate change, pandemics, famine and refugees continue to grow in both their scale and complexity.”
During the Kim administration, the World Bank succeeded in boosting the bank’s paid-in capital budget by a record $13 billion. But financial experts around the world consider his term as a rocky one, as the progress in eliminating extreme poverty around the world slowed down considerably last year. Critics of the institution said that the diminishing number of global poverty has mainly been caused by domestic policies in communist China, not directly by the bank itself. Externally, the bank has faced increasing competition, as several other state-backed lenders have gained influence. Cornell University professor, Erwan Prasad, said that Kim’s exit may pose significant threats for the institution, especially as the Bank must face strains in the economic and strategic relationship between the two superpowers, US and China.
US Presidents have usually appointed the head of the World Bank, as Kim himself was selected in 2012 by the then-president Barack Obama. The abrupt resignation by Kim provides a chance for the current president of the United States, Donald J. Trump to choose his successor. It is expected from Trump to use his veto power in making sure a close adviser or political figure take the reins of the bank.
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