Sun, Mar 18, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Sachs gains support for World Bank as US stalls

AFP, Washington

US lawmakers on Friday pressed US President Barack Obama to nominate economist Jeffrey Sachs as the next World Bank president as the White House scrambled to pick a different candidate ahead of next week’s deadline.

In a letter to Obama, 27 fellow Democrats in the US House of Representatives said that Sachs, whose self-declared candidacy has drawn a number of endorsements from around the world, has the leadership skills for the job.

Meanwhile, the White House still appeared unready to submit its own nominee to run the global development bank, a week after leaking a shortlist of three high-powered possibilities — none of them Sachs.

One person close to the World Bank said the administration is at an “impasse” because each of the three presents a problem.

US Senator John Kerry has said he does not want the job; UN ambassador Susan Rice is in line to become US secretary of state and Harvard University economics professor and former World Bank chief economist Larry Summers is seen as divisive by some key allies of Washington.

“Summers doesn’t look like a candidate who will have strong support. Apparently, he cannot gain the backing of all Group of Seven countries,” the person said.

The US legislators pressed Obama to opt for Sachs, a development economist known for his work worldwide.

Sachs, 57, is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals.

Early this month, he announced his bid to succeed World Bank President Robert Zoellick, the former US diplomat who is stepping down when his term ends in June.

Since then, Sachs has garnered official letters of support from Bhutan, East Timor, Haiti, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia and Namibia, and he told reporters on Friday that his nomination has already been submitted to the World Bank.

Under a tacit agreement dating back to the founding of the institution, the US has always chosen the World Bank head, while Europe names a European chief of the IMF.

However, emerging economies have loudly protested that status quo, demanding greater representation at the two Washington-based institutions.

The source close to the bank said the US could miss the deadline for nominating someone.

The World Bank has said it plans to fill the post by the start of its spring meetings with the IMF on April 20.

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