CNN SPEAKS WITH FORMER COLOMBIAN FINANCE MINISTER AND WORLD BANK PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, JOSÉ ANTONIO OCAMPO
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JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: We’re joined on the GLOBAL EXCHANGE by José Antonio Ocampo, live from our New York bureau.
It’s nice to have you, professor. The first thing I want to talk to you about, as you well know, this is an institution that has been run since the end of World War II by an American. What would be the primary difference of the World Bank if you were to take over as president?
JOSÉ ANTONIO OCAMPO, FORMER COLOMBIAN FINANCE MINISTER: I think the major difference from any of the two developing country candidates is obviously that we have a very direct experience about development. We know what development is in terms of economic, social, environmental issues. Best, I think than – and certainly better than the developed countries. So, that’s, I think the major difference and why developing countries have made such a forceful entry into this race.
DEFTERIOS: In fact, you make a good point. You’ve written about development obviously as the Under Secretary-General of the United Nations. But we still have a billion people living on less than a dollar a day. And we keep on saying that the World Bank has a mandate to address poverty. Can you really cut into that number as president? And specifically, what would you do differently?
OCAMPO: I think the World Bank should, to start with, be more engaged with major economic issues. Particularly with diversification of the developing countries. Both low-income countries and middle-income countries, because there are different challenges at each stage of development. And this issue has been largely ignored by the World Bank for some time.
But I also think the – you know, some of the issues that were in the past but were somewhat ignored should be emphasised, particularly the issue of infrastructure. Which was, of course, the main priority of the World Bank from, say the 1950s to the 1970s. It was largely ignored during the period of structural reforms – and is back. And of course, the more traditional issues associated with education, with health, with social security reform, which are central to social advancement.
DEFTERIOS: People are taking a step back and wondering why the U.S. has nominated Jim Yong Kim, who is a specialist in the health field. It seems to be taking the World Bank in the wrong direction; it’s almost too narrow of a focus. Would you agree with that?
OCAMPO: Well, I think from the perspective of experience and development, there is no doubt that the minister of finance of Nigeria and myself, we have a broader perspective on – on those – development issues. Economic, social and environmental.
DEFTERIOS: In fact, you are a very close ally of the United States. The majority of emerging markets don’t see this as a viable option. With the U.S. candidate now on the table, do you think that the chips would lie in your favour as a close ally of America?
OCAMPO: Well, first of all, I am in this race because this is the first time that it has been opened in a – at least partially open, by the rules that the board of the World Bank has set. In turn, supported by the G20, which decided that both the IMF and the World Bank should be subject to competition as all international agencies are.
Whether the view that the World Bank president should be selected on the basis of merits, in what they can offer the World Bank, I think is what we have to see. I really hope that this is the standard by which the board will select the next president of the World Bank.
DEFTERIOS: OK. We know it’s a three-horse race. What would you say your chances are of securing victory here for Colombia and for the bank with your work in development?
OCAMPO: Well, I’m not here for Colombia. I’m here for the developing world. And the emerging markets and developing countries, I think, have a real chance because they are much better organised than previously. Particularly, they are much better organised than they were for the IMF race.
DEFTERIOS: OK. It’s nice to have you on the GLOBAL EXCHANGE. Thanks for joining us tonight, José Antonio Ocampo. One of the candidates, of course, for the World Bank presidency, which is going to be decided by the end of April.