Recent unrest wake up call: World Bank

Recent unrest wake up call: World Bank

SANTIAGO - Reuters
Recent unrest wake up call: World Bank

The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, speaks during a press conference. AFP photo

Massive protests in Brazil, Egypt and Turkey should jolt governments across the globe into ensuring they are providing crucial public services and opportunities to their citizens, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in an interview.

Frustration with the political establishment, a lack of opportunity and unmet expectations for better living standards have helped galvanize millions of people in those countries to march in the streets and demand change.

“These social movements are not going to go away. And in my view they’re simply going to grow,” Kim told Reuters.

“Every country in the world has to really think hard about whether or not it’s effective or not at delivering services, at whether or not people really do have a chance. Because Twitter and Facebook and social media have become incredibly powerful tools for civil society,” Kim said.

The protests that have swept Brazil in recent weeks have sent shockwaves through the country’s political establishment, prompting a flurry of promises to improve public services as well as concrete measures aimed at quelling the unrest.

In Turkey, unrest began at the end of May when police used force against campaigners opposed to plans to redevelop a central Istanbul park. The protest spiraled into broader demonstrations against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people marched across Egypt on July 5 in what deposed President Mohamed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement called a “Friday of Rage” to protest against his ouster and an interim government set up to prepare for new elections.

“Our view at the World Bank Group is: look, this makes it even more important that countries get the macroeconomics right, because getting the macroeconomics right means you’re able to weather economic crisis,” Kim said. “You’ve got to get serious about investments in human capital: health, education, social protection. These are really critical,” he said.