Sun, Oct 05, 2014 - Page 13 News List

World Bank staff press president Kim over bonuses

JUSTIFICATION:Despite workers’ demands for an explanation on the issue of bonuses, a spokesman has said they are necessary to attract and retain superior management

AFP, WASHINGTON

The World Bank’s staff association has called for a meeting with bank president Jim Yong Kim citing a “climate of fear and confusion,” and unhappiness over bonuses granted to select top officials.

Kim has issued a public meeting for tomorrow morning to address the concerns following a staff association memo asking him to discuss issues related to reforms he has instituted since becoming bank president two years ago.

The internal memo, obtained by media on Friday, was circulated ahead of an annual gathering of World Bank members and staff in Washington next week.

The text cited “major frustration over bonuses to senior management leading the cost-cutting exercise currently underway [and] insufficient budgets to deliver projects.”

It also pointed to a “lack of communications from management on the global practices moving forward, and the overall climate of fear and confusion that is permeating the corridors.”

The association, representing a workforce of about 10,000, requested a town hall meeting with Kim “in order to convey staff frustrations and confusion to him directly without filter.”

“Staff need to see and hear from Kim now and have their concerns addressed,” it added.

The poverty-fighting institution has been riled by news that, despite Kim’s efforts to cut spending, certain senior officials have received generous bonuses.

A key figure involved in the bank’s restructuring, chief financial officer Bertrand Badre, received a US$94,000 bonus for the fiscal year, in addition to his net annual salary of about US$380,000.

A source close to the bank told reporters that Badre was also granted an initial premium of nearly US$95,000, paid in instalments, when he was recruited in March last year.

However, the bank said the sum had not appeared in its last financial report because recruitment premiums “have never been included in the disclosure for any member of executive management.”

After an anonymous flyer on the issue circulated earlier this week, about 200 staff assembled in the main hall of the World Bank headquarters in Washington on Thursday, according to the staff association.

Kim, who was nominated by US President Barack Obama, launched a sweeping reorganization aimed at cutting US$5 billion in annual expenditures by US$400 million over three years, including possible staff cuts.

The reorganization comes as the World Bank faces the challenge of serving developing country clients from the new development-focused “BRICS bank” being launched by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

On Wednesday, World Bank spokesman David Theis justified issuing bonuses amid an austerity program as necessary to attract and retain “high-caliber” management.

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