The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programs. It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). The World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group, and a member of the United Nations Development Group.
The World Bank’s official goal is the reduction of poverty. According to its Articles of Agreement, all its decisions must be guided by a commitment to the promotion of foreign investment and international trade and to the facilitation of Capital investment.
During World War II, in the year 1944, a decision for the establishment of two institutions was taken in a Conference held at Bretton Woods in America. The institutions to be established were
(1) International Monetary Fund and
(2) International Bank for Reconstruction and Development or World Bank.
The objective of IMF was to stabilize exchange rates by removing temporary balance of payments deficits. On the other hand, the objective of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) or the World Bank was the reconstruction of war-ravaged economies and provision of necessary capital for the economic development of underdeveloped countries. The bank was established in 1945 and started its function in June 1945. The World Bank is an inter-governmental institution and corporate in form. Its capital is wholly owned by its member countries.
Objectives of the World Bank
The main objectives of the World Bank are:
(1) Reconstruction and Development
The main objective of the bank is to reconstruct the war devastated economies like Britain, France, Holland etc. and to provide economic assistance to underdeveloped countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma etc.
(2) Encouragement to Capital Investment
An other important objective of the Bank is to encourage private investors to invest capital underdeveloped countries, by means of guarantee of participation in loans and other investment made by private investors and when private capital is not available on reasonable terms, to supplement private investment by providing on suitable conditions finance for productive purposes out of its own capital, funds raised by it and its other resources.
(3) Encouragement to International Trade
The third objective of the bank is to encourage international trade. It aims at promoting long-range growth of international trade and maintenance of equilibrium in member’s international balance of payments, so that standard of living of the people of member-countries is raised.
(4) Establishment of Peace Time Economy
The fourth objective of the Bank is to help the member-countries changeover from war-time economy to peace-time economy.
(5) Environmental Protection
Global environmental protection is also an objective of Bank. To this end, World Bank gives substantial financial assistance to those underdeveloped countries which are engaged in the task of environmental protection.
6) Maintenance of equilibrium in balance of payment
To promote long term balanced growth of international trade and the maintenance of equilibrium in balance of payments of member countries by encouraging long term international investment so as to develop productive resources of members and thereby raising its productivity, the standard of living and labor conditions.