Intervention at a Meeting of the Directors of World Bank and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Finding resources to finance development has always been a difficult problem, especially during the last few years, when there was the beginning of a trend towards a decline in official development assistance and a reduction in voluntary contributions to the operational activities of the UN, accompanied by a decline in prices of raw materials and energy resources. The problem of financing was further exacerbated by the growing financial crisis, for not only are foreign investors displaying understandable caution, but there are also very limited possibilities for mobilizing internal resources for development, particularly in countries which have been affected by the crisis. In this situation, we believe that favorable conditions for providing needy countries with resources for development can be fully realized if the financial crisis is overcome, and the stability of international financing and national finance systems is restored in the countries affected by the crisis. On this point 1 would like to ask a few questions of the President of the World Bank, Mr. Wolfenson:

How do you assess the effectiveness of the measures taken by the international financial institutions to render assistance to countries affected by the crisis? Is there a need for special additional measures for the affected countries because of the aggravation of the crisis there and since its consequences may turn out to be highly pernicious for the global economy as a whole?

The resolution on the financial crisis adopted at the last session of the General Assembly faced the United Nations with the problem of analyzing, in consultation with the Bretton Woods institutions, the possibilities for improving the early warning system, for preventing and for responding in a timely manner to the emergence and spread of financial crises. A similar idea was also included in the resolution on the integration of countries with a transition economy into the world economy.

What, in your view, could in fact be improved in this area, in particular regarding early warnings of crisis situations and crisis prevention?

In Russia, one of the major problems which the government is trying to resolve is that of the mobilization of funds held by the po­pulation, in order to develop the production sector of the economy. According to various expert assessments, these sums run into many

billions of dollars. There is a particular problem because the financial crisis has undermined the population’s confidence in our banks. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Russian Prime Minister, Evgeny Primakov, suggested involving foreign banks in the Russian market for this purpose.

What is your view — will foreign banks become involved in Russia, and on what conditions? To that end, will guarantees of the Russian government suffice, or are international guarantees necessary, for example, from the group of the World Bank?

A number of resolutions of the General Assembly on development issues, including the one recently adopted at its 53rd session on the three-year review of comprehensive policy in the operational activity of the UN for development, attaches great importance to strengthening cooperation between the World Bank, the regional banks for development and the operative programs and funds of the UN. Could you tell us what the bank is doing in this respect?

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