World Bank staff presses Kim over selective bonuses

World Bank staff presses Kim over selective bonuses

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 to select top officials.

Kim has issued a public meeting for Monday 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 AFP Friday, was circulated ahead of an annual gathering of 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 around 10,000, requested a townhall meeting with Kim "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," 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 restructuring, chief financial officer Bertrand Badre, received a $94,000 bonus for fiscal year 2014, in addition to his net annual salary of about $380,000.

A source close to the Bank told AFP that Badre was also granted an initial premium of nearly $95,000, paid in installments, when he was recruited in March 2013.

However, the Bank said the sum hadn't 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 World Bank headquarters in Washington on Thursday, according to the staff association.

Kim, who was nominated by US President Barack Obama, launched a sweeping reorganisation aimed at cutting $5 billion in annual expenditures by $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 programme as necessary to attract and retain "high-caliber" management.

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