World Bank cost-cutting finance chief declines bonus

An employee walks outside the World Bank headquarters in Washington, United States.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
An employee walks outside the World Bank headquarters in Washington, United States.

The World Bank's finance chief said he would decline the remainder of his bonus in a move that appeared aimed at quelling discontent among staff who thought it out of line given planned layoffs and budget cuts.

Bertrand Badre, the chief financial officer who has pushed much of the cost-cutting at the bank, plans to turn down a bonus that would have added up to $94,000 by the end of the year, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced to applause during a packed "town hall" forum for bank employees on Tuesday, two sources told Reuters.

A World Bank spokesman confirmed the information.

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The poverty-fighting institution has been cutting costs as part of a massive reorganization that Kim hopes will make it more efficient and effective.

But the changes in the bank's structure, its internal funding measures and its focus have demoralized employees, who fret about budget and job cuts, unclear lines of command and a general lack of information.

In the meeting with staff on Tuesday, Kim emphasized the progress the bank has made in recent months, including committing $400 million to fight the Ebola outbreak.

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But he said he needed to spend more time listening to staff concerns, according to a source who attended the meeting.

"We are implementing fundamental changes to our development delivery model to become fit for purpose to meet today's most pressing challenges," World Bank spokesman David Theis said in an email. "Of course staff unease is natural and understandable in any large organization undergoing such a large-scale realignment.

"We believe we will come out of this process as a stronger, more unified organization, better positioned to achieve our mission," Theis said.

Kim's meeting with staff on Tuesday came after a 15-minute work "stoppage" employees organized last week, and a gathering of employees on Tuesday morning in the bank's large glass-topped atrium.

The protests come as the world's finance ministers and central bankers start to gather in Washington for the Bank and International Monetary Fund's semi-annual meetings this weekend.

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The World Bank wants to slash $400 million from its budget by the middle of 2017 to free up money for development projects, and has said it would likely need to lay off some employees.

Badre is one of four senior officials who received extra compensation on top of their regular salaries under a "scarce skills premium." The names of the other three have not been released.

Badre started getting the annual $94,000 premium in January, on top of his regular paycheck, meaning he has received about $70,000 so far. He will be giving up the premium for the remainder of the year, the bank said.

Badre's annual salary was $379,000 in the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the World Bank's annual report.

Kim, the World Bank president, was paid $482,080 for the last fiscal year, in addition to other benefits, including a $86,290 allowance to cover expenses.