The Business Times

World Bank staff press Kim over selective bonuses

Published Fri, Oct 3, 2014 · 10:43 PM

[WASHINGTON] The World Bank's staff association has called for a meeting with President Jim Yong Kim citing a "climate of fear and confusion" and unhappiness over bonuses granted select top officials.

An internal memo obtained by AFP on Friday asked Mr Kim to discuss issues related to reforms he has instituted since becoming Bank president two years ago with staff ahead of the bank's annual meetings next week.

The staff association memo cited "major frustration over bonuses to senior management leading the cost-cutting exercise currently underway (and) insufficient budgets to deliver projects." It also cited "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 around 10,000, requested a town-hall meeting with Mr Kim next week "in order to convey staff frustrations and confusion to him directly without filter." "Staff need to see and hear from President Kim now and have their concerns addressed."

A week before the annual gathering of bank members and staff in Washington, the poverty-fighting institution has been riled by news that, despite Mr Kim's efforts to cut spending, certain senior officials have received generous bonuses.

A key figure involved in the Bank restructuring, chief financial officer Bertrand Badre, received a US$94,000 bonus for fiscal year 2014, in addition to his net annual salary of about $380,000.

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

After President Barack Obama nominated him to lead the Bank, Mr Kim launched a sweeping reorganisation aimed at cutting US$5 billion in annual expenditures by US$400 million over three years, including possible staff cuts.

The reorganisation also comes as the World Bank faces a challenge to serving developing country clients from the new development-focused "BRICS bank" being launched by Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa.

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

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