Obama backs public health expert for World Bank top job

Jim Yong Kim, 52, a Korean American was nominated as the head of the World Bank by Barack Obama on Friday. Kim is president of Dartmouth College and also a former director at the World Health Organization. Robert Zoellick, the current President steps down at the end of June.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Finance Minister of Nigeria and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo were also nominated but the candidate backed by US is expected to win. Obama said that Kim had worked from major countries, capitals and small towns. He also added if anyone is willing to work hard and lookout for others, they can go any distance. The World Bank Presidency in the past has had many candidates from political circles and this nomination comes as a surprise.

Okonjo-Iweala, economist and diplomat, will be supported by emerging countries like Angola, Nigeria and South Africa in order to have the bank’s focus more on their economic growth than poverty-fighting. Another nominee, Jose Antonio Ocampo, was nominated by Brazil to overturn the tradition of having an American as President. “It is not a slam dunk. It is not an obvious choice,” said Arvind Subramanian, a former IMF official about the US nomination. He also said there will also be assessments of merits of the candidates, debates and the direction of the bank’s focus.

US, with the single voting share will expect support from European Nations and Japan, which is the second largest voting member. Paul Farmer, a partner to Kim in nonprofit health care, feels that he will serve a purpose with his real world understanding of poverty. He also said that vision of boldness is one of his best qualities.

Jeffrey Sachs, U.S. economist has withdrawn his nomination extended support to Kim. South Korea, Kim’s home country and Canada are also ready to back him. But, India on the other hand wants to consult other countries in BRICKS before deciding. Emerging nations like India, China and Brazil want US and European Countries to adopt a transparent and merit based process of selection for both the heads of World Bank and IMF.

The incumbent World Bank chief will have to contend with a Euro Zone crisis and has to do a fine balancing act in deploying resources in the face of increased pressure from the US for a transparent administration.

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