The British Council: Economics, Finance and Management

Recent reports of multilateral development institutions


This paper reviews the content and messages of the 1996 World Bank and UNDP Development Reports together with the OECD DAC report on Shaping the twenty-first century. It draws out common strands and looks at how the British Council might take account of them in its work.

The theme of next year's World Bank Report is The State in a Changing World. With the well known statistic that private sector investment now far outweighs official aid flows it can be expected that the report will look at the role of the private sector in development, the interface between government and the private sector, the role of multi-national companies and the development of regional economic power blocks.

World Development Report

The title of this year's World Development Report is From Plan to Market. The report is devoted to the transition of centrally planned economies, in particular those of Central and Eastern Europe, the Former Soviet Union, China and Vietnam, to market economies. The report is divided into two section, the first analysing the initial challenges of transition and how they were tackled by individual countries, the second looking at the longer term agenda for consolidation.

As usual the report contains a great deal of statistical information. It will be of particular interest to those in the Council working in and with the countries covered. If they have not already done so those Country Directors should obtain a copy of the report.

The report does not draw out any general issues which may be applicable in other regions despite the fact that there are many similarities between the transition programmes it describes and World Bank sponsored structural adjustment programmes being implemented in many developing countries.

The consistent theme of the World Bank throughout all its areas of operation is that stabilisation and economic growth are necessary for economic and social development. It takes a strong neo-classical economic line that economic and social benefits will trickle down to the poorer sections of society through growth in the economy. It sees this as the solution to any economic inequalities which may arise.

The main conclusions of the report are:

The report also identifies key points which seem to give important advantages for transition to a market economy. They are:

Issues which are covered in detail in the report include:

An agenda for donors is suggested which is of particular interest to the Council. I specifies:

In addition the report suggests that business advice and financial support for the private sector should come from the private sector, ie via the market. Donor agencies can help by providing hands on training for managers and entrepreneurs in order to overcome years of isolation from market economies but investment finance channelled through government restructuring agencies should be avoided.

As well as an agenda for donors an agenda for reforming countries themselves is also set out. This specifies:

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