South Asia Regional Vice Presidency

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South Asia Regional Vice Presidency

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The units responsible for World Bank lending and technical assistance have changed frequently in name and status since the Bank began operations in 1946. A summary of organizational and functional changes relevant to Bank operations in the South Asia Region (SAR) since 1946 is provided in this description. Units responsible for operations in the South Asia Region include:

1946-1952 Loan Department (LOD) Economic Department (ECD)

1952-1957 Department of Operations - Asia and Middle East (AME)

1957-1965 Department of Operations - South Asia and Middle East (SME)

1965-1966 South Asia Department (SAS)

1966-1968 Asia Department (ASI)

1968-1972 South Asia Department (SAS)

1972-1974 Asia Vice Presidency (ASN)

1974-1987 South Asia Vice Presidency (ASN)

1987-1991 Asia Regional Office - Asia Vice Presidency (ASI)

1991-present South Asia Vice Presidency (SAR)

The operations function of the World Bank has, in one form or another, been organized according to geographic region throughout the history of theBank. It is important to note that the South Asia Region, in the earlier decades of the World Bank's existence, oscillated between inclusion in larger and broader organizational units consisting of, on one hand, East Asia and Pacific countries and, on the other, African and, especially, Middle Eastern countries. As of 2014, the South Asia Region includes the following countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

1946 - 1952

Upon the Bank's opening in 1946,operational lending was executed out of the Loan Department (LOD). The LOD was responsible for developing loan operation policy, receiving and investigating loan inquiries, presenting loan inquiries to Bank management for consideration, and negotiating loans. The organizational structure of LOD fluctuated over its seven year history but was, for the majority of the time, organized geographically. The Bank's focus in these early years was on post-World War II reconstruction - particularly in Europe - and this is reflected by the initial divisional organization of the LOD. Of the seven original divisions, four dealt with Europe and two with the Western Hemisphere. One division was responsible for the two continents of Asia and Africa: the Asiatic-African Division.

In 1948, the seven divisions were briefly consolidated into two (the European and United Kingdom Division and the Latin American, Asiatic and African Division). Then, in November of 1948, divisions were abolished altogether, as loans were assigned to loan officers on an ad hoc basis. In 1950, LOD was again divided into three geographical areas, of which the Asia and the Middle East Division was one.

Parallel to the LOD was the Economic Department (ECD) which conducted sector analysis and research work. Between 1946 and 1952, the ECD was responsible for both functional and geographic analyses, i.e. general economic studies and country specific studies. Its work supported the LOD and its loan administration and advised member countries on their economic and sector development plans. The ECD also liaised with international organizations on economic research and provided staff for Bank missions. Like the LOD, the organization of the ECD reflected the Bank's focus on post-war Europe. The Department initially consisted of three area divisions (South Asia being located in its "Development Areas Division") and an Economic Technology Division responsible for specialized sector studies. In August 1948 a new organizational structure featuring two area divisionswas installed. Area Division I was responsible for Europe and Area Division II was divided into four sections of which Asia was one. In March 1950 another reorganization divided the Department into an advisory staff and an area staff, the latter consisting of three divisions of which Asia was one.

The first funding to the region was to India for railway reconstruction and development (Railway Project - P009588). The loan was approved on 18 August 1949 and provided $34 million dollars. During the period 1946 to 1952, the only SAR country to receive funding other than India was Pakistan, which received its first Bank loan in March of 1952 (Railway Project - P010002). During this period, the Bank sent missions to the Region, including India and Pakistan in 1949 and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1951. In January of 1952, Bank President Eugene R. Black visited India, Pakistan, and Ceylon as part of a trip that also included stops in Thailand and Australia.

Early in the Bank's existence, the institution took on the occasional role of mediator between countries in instances of financial and/or resource disputes. While the Bank played this role only a small number of times, the instances when it did were generally of a high profile. One of the more significant examples of this was the dispute between India and Pakistan with regard to the water resources in the Indus Basin. Bank President Black approached the leaders of the two countries and suggested that the Bank could offer technical assistance to resolve their dispute.The first meeting was held in the offices of the World Bank in the summer of 1952 and involved the participation of engineers representing each country. Negotiations continued for nine years before a final treaty was signed by both parties in 1960.

1952 - 1972

A sizable reorganization that took effect in September of 1952 created an operational structure that would endure for the next twenty years. LOD staff were combined with the country-related staff from the ECD to form three distinct geographical Area Departments: Western Hemisphere (WHM); Europe, Africa and Australasia (EAA); and Asia and Middle East (AME). These units were primarily responsible for World Bank-member country relations. Functions included: loan policy and plan development; country development program appraisal and review; preparation of proposed loans; and country economic monitoring. AME consisted of four divisions created according to geographic region; while the first and fourth divisions contained Middle Eastern and East Asian countries respectively, Division II contained Ethiopia, Iran and Pakistan while Division III contained India, Burma and Ceylon. AME had two Department Directors between 1952 and 1957: Joseph Rucinski (22 September 1952 - 10 February 1953 and 11 May 1955 - 1 April 1957); and Francois Didier-Griegh (10 February 1953 - 11 May 1955).

As part of the 1952 reorganization, the sector-oriented staff of the former ECD formed the Technical Operations Department (TOD) in the new Area Departments and was placed in charge of project appraisal and supervision. Specifically, the TOD was responsible for: the appraisal of proposed projects; advising Area Departments on proposed projects and assisting in negotiations; supervising approved projects and assisting borrowers in procurement efforts; and monitoring and reporting on member countries' sector economies.

During this period the World Bank began establishing resident missions in SAR countries. These included Pakistan in 1956 and India in 1957. Also, in 1958, the Aid-India Consortium was established. The Consortium, made up of bilateral and multilateral leaders, was the first of the Consortia and Consultative Groups that the Bank set up for its developing member countries. Later, in 1960, a similar Consortium would be created for Pakistan.

Growing membership and operational responsibility in the Middle East and Asia was the main reason for the division of AME into two new units in 1957: the Department of Operations - South Asia and Middle East (SME) and the Department of Operations - Far East (FEA). As part of this organization, SAR countries were split up between the two new departments: Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan were placed in SME while Ceylon and Burma were located in FEA. Note also that the Indus Basin Settlement was treated as an organizational unit and was located in SME.

Joseph Rucinski, former Department Director of AME, was retained as Department Director of SME. He was briefly replaced by Geoffrey Wilson (1 January 1962 - 14 September 1962) and then, permanently, by Escott Reid (15 September 1962 - 18 January 1965).

In January of 1965, SME was replaced by the South Asia Department (SAS), while countries in the Middle East region were merged with countries in the Europe Region to form the Europe and Middle East Department (EME). This marks the first time that the South Asia Region was organizationally autonomous. Alexander Stevenson served as Department Director of SAS for this period. However, this arrangement only lasted for a year and a half. In July of 1966, the FEA, which had remained untouched during the 1965 reorganization, was merged with SAS to form the Asia Department (ASI). Stevenson was named Associate Director while I. P. M. Cargill, formerly Department Director of FEA, was made Department Director of ASI.

This reorganization of the regional operations units also did not last long. In October 1968, due to the increased volume of lending operations anticipated over the next several years, the World Bank executed a major reorganization of its regional departments. One of the results was that ASI was again divided into two separate departments: South Asia Department (SAS) and East Asia and Pacific Department (EAP). Cargill served as the Department Director of SAS through 1972 while Raymond J. Goodman served as Director for EAP during this time.

1972 - 1987

While projects funded by the World Bank in the South Asia Region from the Bank's inception through the 1960s focused primarily on infrastructure projects like transportation and energy, in the 1970s a shift towards agriculture, rural development and the social sectors occurred. This shift mirrored a more general trend in the Bank and, generally, in development dialogue at the time.

As part of a massive 1972 reorganization, the geographical organization of the Regional units was again redefined. The seven departments (including SAS) that made up the Area Departments were elevated to five Regional Vice Presidencies (RVP). As a result, SAS and EAP were again combined to form a single Regional Vice Presidency: the Asia Vice Presidency (ASN). The RVPs reported to the new Senior Vice President, Operations (SVPOP).

A more significant aspect of the 1972 reorganization, however, was the integration of the former Projects Division with the new RVPs. The period between 1952 and 1972 had been characterized by frequent reorganizations of the geographically-based area units responsible for country liaison and loan policy and negotiation. However, the division of responsibility between these units and the TOD (renamed the Projects Division [PRJ] in 1965) was maintained. But in 1972, in an attempt to more effectively fuse country knowledge and sectoral skills, the reorganization removed most of the Bank's operational project work from the Project Departments to five new Regional Vice Presidencies. Each Region's Project Department staff was organized into sector-oriented departments and were known as Central Projects Staff. Thus, rather than one Projects Department that supported projects in countries on an ad hoc basis, each RVP would maintain its own projects staff. Each RVP was, in turn, given "line authority" to analyze, decide and act on country development operations. Each RVP was responsible for planning and executing IBRD/IDA development assistance programs subject to the overall framework of Bank policies, priorities and operating procedures. The RVPs created regional plans and budgets, ensured the effective implementation of approved plans, created country economic and sector reports, and developed and implemented loan, credit, technical assistance, and other forms of development projects. The RVPs were also responsible for maintaining sound relations with governments of assigned countries and with aid organizations and donors involved in those countries.

Upon the completion of the 1972 reorganization, ASN was divided into two Country Program Departments in addition to the new Projects Department. The countries overseen by the former SAS constituted Country Program Department 2. Note that oversight of operations in Afghanistan was moved into the new Europe, Middle East and North Africa Regional Vice Presidency (EMN) and would not return to the South Asia Region until 1991. The Country Program Departments were staffed by country economists and loan officers whose primary responsibilities were: conducting area reviews of Bank activities and countries' economic and political developments; formulating country lending and economic and sector work programs and implementing country programs; and reviewing loan applications, negotiating loans, and administering loans.

The Region's Project Department was divided into five sector-based units: Agriculture; Development Finance Companies; Education; Public Utilities; and Transportation. The Projects Department provided technical assistance and advice to members and borrowers on sectoral issues, priorities, and project development from identification through operation. The Projects Department, consisting of economists, financial analysts, and sector specialists, was specifically responsible for: creating sector policies; assisting countries with the identification and preparation of projects; appraising potential projects and assisting the Country Program Departments in loan negotiation and credit agreements; and helping borrowers manage consultants and procurement.

Note that not all operational responsibility was transferred from the former PRJ to the RVPs. Staff in sectors too small to decentralize to the various regions continued to provide a complete "operational package" of technical services to the regions. These units, such as Population and Nutrition and Urban Projects, were known as Central Operating Projects Departments and were located in the newly formed Vice President, Central Projects (CPSVP) which, like the RVPs, reported to the SVPOP. In addition, those former PRJ units which had their operational functions dispersed to the RVPs still maintained a core staff in the CPSVP with responsibility for policy and advisory work only.

I. P. M. Cargill served as the Regional Vice President of ASN from 1 October 1972 to 30 June 1974. In 1974, the Asia Vice Presidency was again divided into separate Vice Presidencies: the South Asia Vice Presidency (ASN) and the East Asia and Pacific Vice Presidency (AEN). Subsequently, Mervyn L. Weiner was named Regional Vice President (1 July 1974 to 1 October 1975) of the new ASN. Ernest Stern (1 October 1975 to 1 January 1978) and W. David Hopper (1 January 1978 to 30 June 1987) succeeded Weiner.

1987 - 1997

While the make-up of the Country Program Departments and Projects Department changed between 1972 and 1987 (most notably with a considerable increase in the number of Projects Department sector divisions), the organization and functions of the RVPs was consistent until 1987. In July of 1987, however, a Bank-wide reorganization under President Barber Conable altered the structures of the RVPs considerably. The changes were brought on by a desire to strengthen the Bank's country focus by making the Country Department the basic program and budget unit.

The new Country Departments that replaced the Country Program Departments combined the macro-economic work of the former Country Program Departments and the sector work of the former Regional Projects Department. Each Country Department would consist of a Country Operations Division (COD) as well as multiple Sectoral Operations Divisions (SOD) made up of staff from the former Regional Projects Departments. The COD was composed of lead, country and specialized economists as well as Country Officers and was responsible for: liaising with state governments and developing knowledge of issues in the country; preparing and supervising the country's aid strategy; and providing full responsibility for certain country-wide operations such as Structural Adjustment Loans and country economic work. SODs were responsible for overall sectoral strategy and for planning, programming and implementing development activities for the countries in their respective sectoral specialties; this would include the provision of full lending project management as well as lending and sector evaluation work.

Not all staff was moved from each Region's Project Department into the Country Departments' SODs. Those remaining formed a new Regional Technical Department within each RVP. It was responsible for higher level knowledge collection, assessment, and dissemination. The Technical Department, which was organized into sector-focused divisions, was to stimulate innovation in operational work and undertake strategic thinking by providing advice, operational support, regional studies, staff training and the dissemination of materials to Bank staff, donors, and other institutions outside the Bank. The Department would continue to offer operational help in the form of task management, task support, and advice. They would also work closely with Policy, Planning and Research (PPR) staff in conducting regional studies and reviews and advising on sector policy and research priorities.

A subsequent reorganization in 1993 strengthenedthe Country Departments' SODs through unit reorganization and a transfer of staff from the Regional Technical Departments to the SODs. The Technical Departments were greatly reduced in size and were restructured to reflect the emphasis on sectoral and thematic responsibilities of the SODs. The Technical Departments operational support function was consequently reduced.

During the 1987 reorganization the number of RVPs was decreased from six to four. This involved the merger of ASN and AEN in the formation of a single Asia Regional Office (ASI). Attila Karaosmanoglu was named Regional Vice President of ASI. ASI initially contained five Country Departments and a single Technical Department. This internal organization was maintained through 1991 when the four regional Vice Presidencies were again expanded to six and ASI was divided into two separate Vice Presidencies: South Asia Vice Presidency (SAS) and East Asia and Pacific Vice Presidency (EAP). However, the two new reformed Vice Presidencies continued to share a single Technical Department (AST) until 1997.

D. Joseph Wood was named Regional Vice President of the newly constituted SAS. Note that in 1991 Afghanistan was returned to the oversight of the South Asia Vice Presidency but Myanmar remained in EAP. From 1991 to 1996, SAS had three Country Departments and a single Technical Department. In 1996, the number of Country Departments was decreased to two.

1997 - 2014

A 1996-1997 reorganization modified the changes made in 1987 and 1993. The RVP continued to be responsible for all aspects of country development assistance for its member countries, including: country assistance strategy; lending operations; technical assistance operations; and economic and sector work. However, the primary objective of the reorganization was to deepen the country focus and responsiveness to client needs. This was accomplished in a number of ways. The most striking changes concerned the new Country Management Units (CMUs) which replaced the former Country Departments. The CMUs were smaller than their predecessor (that is, each was responsible for a smaller number of countries) while their number correspondingly increased. In the South Asia Region, the number of CMUs rose from two in 1996 to seven in 1998. In addition, there was an increasing decentralization of CMU staff and country directors from Bank headquarters in Washington to locations within client countries. At the same time, an increase in authority with regard to strategy and budget was given to the country directors. The CMUs continued to be responsible for overall preparation and supervision of the country's assistance strategy, full lending project management, and evaluation of lending and sector work.

During the reorganization, the former Technical Departments were changed into Sector or Technical Families. The role of the Technical Families, which consisted of sector and project economists and selected specialist staff, was to formulate knowledge on technical subjects and best practice and to suggest innovation through research and development. A Technical Families group was placed alongside a number of CMUs within each Regional Vice Presidency.

As a result of the 1997 reorganization, the South Asia Vice Presidency retained its original name but changed its acronym, this time to SAR. Mieko Nishimizu was named Regional Vice President of SAS in Feburary of 1997; upon the completion of the reorganization and the official creation of SAR on 1 July 1997, Nishimizu became the SAR Regional Vice President. Praful C. Patel replaced her on 1 July 2003. Isabel Guerrero succeeded Patel on 1 July 2008 and most recently, Philippe Le Houerou replaced Guerrero on 1 July 2013.


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