World Bank president quits abruptly

January 08, 2019 09:26
Jim Yong Kim said he will join a private-sector firm focused on infrastructure investments in the developing world. Photo: Reuters

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim unexpectedly resigned on Monday, more than three years before his term ends in 2022, amid differences with the Trump administration over climate change and the need for more development resources, Reuters reports.

Kim, 59, told World Bank employees in an email that he was leaving the world’s largest lender and donor to poor and middle-income countries on Feb. 1 to join a private-sector firm focused on infrastructure investments in the developing world. He was not due to leave until 2022.

“The opportunity to join the private sector was unexpected, but I’ve concluded that this is the path through which I will be able to make the largest impact on major global issues like climate change and the infrastructure deficit in emerging markets,” Kim said.

Kim, appointed twice by former US president Barack Obama for five-year terms, had pushed financing for green energy projects and largely dropped support for coal power investments, but had avoided public clashes with the Trump administration, which has made reviving the US coal sector a priority, the news agency said.

Just last month, the World Bank announced it would double its investments to fight climate change to around US$200 billion over the next five years.

Kim said details about his new job will be released later. The physician and former Dartmouth College president said he will also rejoin the board of Partners in Health, a health advocacy group he co-founded 30 years ago.

Kristalina Georgieva, who in 2017 became the World Bank’s chief executive officer, will assume the role of interim president when Kim departs, the bank said.

Georgieva, a Bulgarian national, had previously held senior European Union posts after serving 15 years at the World Bank, starting as an environmental economist in 1993. 

Two people familiar with Kim’s shock announcement to the World Bank executive board said he was leaving of his own accord and was “not pushed out” by the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump, however, will wield strong influence in choosing Kim’s successor as the United States holds a controlling share of the World Bank’s voting rights. 

The bank president has traditionally been an American chosen by the US administration, but some of the multilateral lender’s 189 member countries could mount a new challenge with alternative candidates. 

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