Benn considers withholding £50 million from World Bank

14 September 2006

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, expressing concern that he has not yet seen evidence from the World Bank that they are implementing their reforms on conditionality.

Last year, the UK made a commitment of £1.43 billion to the International Development Association of the World Bank. £50 million of this is linked to the World Bank successfully implementing reforms to the way it attaches conditions to its aid.

Mr Benn is concerned that he has not yet seen the evidence to show that the Bank has made enough progress in implementing these reforms on conditionality. Without that evidence, he will not release the £50 million.

Speaking on this issue, Hilary Benn said:

“The UK has been at the forefront in pushing for improvements to the way that the World Bank and IMF apply conditionality, so that they are not used to impose specific economic policies on poor countries. We will hold the World Bank and IMF to the commitments they have made to work closely with governments to ensure their conditions are drawn from national strategies and reflect national priorities, and my decision on the release of the £50 million additional payment to the World Bank will depend on satisfactory progress.”

Separately, Hilary Benn will speak to Transparency International tonight on the subject of governance and corruption.  Today sees the launch of the UK's Action Plan for Combating International Corruption.  This action plan was referred to in the announcement we made on international corruption earlier this year.