Portugal, Greece seek technical advice from World Bank - Kim

MEXICO CITY Mon Nov 5, 2012 1:19am GMT

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim attends a news conference in Mexico City November 4, 2012. The G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Mexico will take place from November 4 to 5. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim attends a news conference in Mexico City November 4, 2012. The G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Mexico will take place from November 4 to 5.

Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Greece and Portugal have sought technical advice from the World Bank and talks are at the early stages, bank President Jim Yong Kim said on Sunday at the G20 meeting in Mexico.

It is the first time in recent history that developed countries have turned to the World Bank for advice, a major shift for an institution that has focused its help on the world's poorest.

"For both Portugal and Greece we are in the very early stages of conversation," Kim told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 meetings.

"In another few weeks, in another month, we will have much more detail on exactly we're going to do," he added.

Former World Bank chief Robert Zoellick had pushed back on the idea of the bank getting involved in countries like Greece.

However, since picking up the reins of the World Bank in July, Kim said early the World Bank should make itself available to advise developed countries.

"We are very good at helping countries at least understand their public expenditures... and we also think we can help in thinking of ways in improving business environments," he added.

Kim suggested that the World Bank would charge for the advice. Both the economies of Greece and Portugal are currently on life support from IMF-EU bailouts as they implement deep fiscal adjustments to lower their budget deficits.

"We are not quite sure what they are going to ask us. That conversation is just starting," Kim said.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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