Theater of Cruelty


Norwegian Svein Aass represents the Nordic and Baltic countries on the World Bank's board of directors. He believes the World Bank is approaching the Nordic profile.


The red-green government has been critical of the World Bank's demands for privatization and liberalization of the economies of the recipient countries. How is this received?

- These are not views we are alone in. There are many countries that agree with Norway's line here. That Norway is taken seriously is shown by the fact that there has been a record number of leaders of the World Bank in Norway since the new government came to power. Among other things, four to five vice presidents, the chief economist at the World Bank and the head of the bank's Asia department have been in Norway.

But does little Norway influence the decisions the World Bank makes?

- It is not correct to say that we are small. Within the International Development Association (IDA), the part of the bank that provides assistance and not loans, we are the fourth largest contributor in absolute terms. We do not play solo, but together with the group of Nordic and Baltic countries. We have similar views when it comes to development assistance, and a unique profile. In addition, the World Bank has approached the Nordic profile over the past 20 years. In the development assistance area, they are in favor of a more comprehensive policy, and not just large infrastructure projects. This is something the Nordic countries have worked for. For example, greater focus on gender perspectives, social conditions and the environment.

Does this mean that the World Bank has moved away from its line of liberalization requirements?

Demands for liberalization and privatization are not central, but sometimes it is necessary. The idea of ​​the World Bank is that the market does not work perfectly and that one therefore needs a public institution.

What themes are on the agenda in Singapore?

- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will look at the issue of shares in the fund. Countries in the third world that have strengthened their economies will have a greater influence. African countries will have special conditions for greater influence. We are working on a new strategy against corruption and a strategy for medium-developed countries, where 70 percent of the world's poor live. We will also address energy and education issues.

Last year, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the neoconservative "hawks" in the Bush administration, became head of the World Bank. In what way has this affected the bank?

- There was some restraint when the new leadership took place, but much of the Nordic policy has been strengthened. Wolfowitz is personally involved in development and social issues.

Svein Aass participates in the World Bank's annual meeting in Singapore 19-20. September.

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