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Chevy Chase

Developing prospects for developing nations

In his Aug. 14 Page One article, “World Bank plan allows Third World to set rules,” Steve Hirsch raised important points about a proposed World Bank pilot program to strengthen developing-country procurement systems and relayed some concerns expressed by the business community.

We believe this program has the potential to contribute to the fight against corruption, strengthen the human and institutional capacity in developing countries and improve their prospects for overcoming poverty.

Indeed, the goal is to improve development efforts by raising standards for procurement and international competitive bidding in these countries. This would extend beyond World Bank-financed projects to all developing-country expenditures and stands to enhance efficiency, competitiveness and access to public procurement.

It is important to note that the pilot program would work with a few developing countries that already have high standards and could take advantage of the opportunity to improve their systems. In the long run, this effort should increase opportunities for countries to attract external investment and for firms worldwide to have the opportunity to compete.

Finally, before we move forward, the World Bank will hold consultations on the details of the proposal to ensure that stakeholders, such as governments, companies and civil society around the world, have been heard.

We welcome the attention The Washington Times has focused on a program that holds great promise for strengthening the capabilities of our borrowing countries and improving their development prospects.

JEFFREY GUTMAN

Vice president

World Bank

Operations Policy and

Country Services

Washington