World Bulletin / News Desk
World Bank investments in commercial financial institutions are indirectly allowing land-grabs, evictions and pollution in Southeast Asia, a watchdog group charged in a report Friday.
By investing in banks and other so-called financial intermediaries, World Bank funds can increase poverty, social strife and promote projects which hasten climate change, according to a report by Inclusive Development International.
"Once again, we have found that outsourcing the World Bank Group's development mandate to private financial institutions is a recipe for disaster," David Pred, the group's managing director, said in a statement.
Pred's US-based non-governmental organization, which researches the activities of development agencies like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, issued another report in October saying the IFC's investments helped finance a "coal boom" across Asia even though the World Bank had pledged to phase out most support coal-fired power.
An IFC spokesman defended the practice of working with private financial firms, saying they were "essential" to poverty reduction and job creation.
"The multiplier effect of FI investments enables us to support far more enterprises critical to development than we would be able to on our own," IFC spokesman Frederick Jones told AFP.
"We work with our FI clients to improve their environment and social risk management practices."
In 2016, the IFC poured $5 billion into commercial banks, insurance companies, private equity firms and others, representing about half of its new annual long-term commitments, according to an internal IFC watchdog. The investments are aimed at boosting domestic capital and financial markets and supporting development.
But critics have grown increasingly critical of the practice in recent years, saying the financing can support end-users who violate World Bank environmental and social safeguards given the lack of oversight on how the funds are used.
The IFC compliance office said in a report last week that although supervision of these investments was improving, the corporation still lacked a means to assess whether clients met its standards. IFC disputed that report's findings, saying they did not give an accurate view of its performance.
Friday's report singled out IFC support for Raiffeisen Bank International of Austria, which the report said had financed the Thai mining firm Earth Energy, the main underwriter of a coal project in Myanmar's Tanintharyi region that allegedly involved land-grabbing and mining on ancestral lands that could affect as many as 16,000 people.
The report also said IFC bought a stake in Vietnam's state-owned VietinBank, which financed coal power, bauxite mining, rubber plantations and hydropower in Vietnam and Cambodia.
Those including Vietnam's Son La project, which had resulted in the displacement of 91,000 people, and Cambodia's Lower Sesan 2 dam, which threatens Mekong river fish stocks.
Now the VNO-NCW is calling for the Dutch parliament to reverse a 2015 decision to introduce a cap of 20 percent of annual pay on the bonuses which can be paid out to top managers in the banking industry.
The state-owned energy trading firm Lietuvos Duju Tiekimas said it signed the deal with the Texas company Cheniere Energy.
Adding to the upward pressure for oil is the crisis in the Middle East, where a Saudi-led blockade of Qatar has fuelled concerns of possible conflict.
Bourses in both Paris and Frankfurt dipped after a report from data monitoring company IHS Markit showed Eurozone private sector business activity slowed sharply in June while staying in expansion mode.
Analysts said that while the downturn in the headline readings was disappointing, the economy continued to put in a strong performance.
Crude prices stabilised after diving more than two percent on Tuesday on increasing fears of a global supply glut, as continued production in the US and elsewhere offsets an OPEC output cut deal.
Move estimated to save company $1B in investment costs
However, most other regional markets struggled after Monday's healthy gains, despite being given a positive lead from Wall Street where the Dow and S&P 500 closed at fresh record highs.
The purchase in one fell swoop gives Amazon, which until now has operated almost entirely on the internet, a big presence in the brick-and-mortar world on Main Street, with more than 450 stores in the US, Canada and Britain.
"The Bank of Russia Board of Directors decided to cut the key rate to 9.00 percent per annum," the bank said in a statement. The cut follows a half-point decrease in late April.
Equity traders have suffered a fraught week as the crisis engulfing Donald Trump picks up pace, technology firms tumbled from recent highs and energy plays were hammered by plunging oil prices.
"In May 2017, passenger car registrations across the EU increased by 7.6 percent to 1.387 million units," ACEA said in a statement.
In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 index climbed 0.4 percent to 12,746.05 points, and the Paris CAC 40 gained 0.5 percent to 5,243.53 compared with the close on Thursday.