The CEO Poll: Money for nothing?

Before Canada spends cash to help developed nations deal with the recession, it's imperative to find out how the money will be used, say CEOs.

World Bank president Robert Zoellick has pleaded with developed nations to provide at least US$3 billion more to help poorer countries survive the recession. The request was met coolly by some leaders, and a group of Canadian CEOs polled by COMPAS Inc. generally agree with that reaction.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, for instance, told reporters that, “We need to have some co-ordination here about where the capital will go. It does need some work and some of the other countries feel the same way.” More than half the respondents (56%) believe leaders are right to feel that way.

The main issue for the CEOs is that they believe priority should be given to countries with governments that meet high standards of transparency. “Keep the money away from corrupt regimes, of which there are far too many,” wrote one respondent. “Let’s work on the public health and sanitation issues, along with education.”

More than two-thirds of the respondents believe the World Bank itself lacks adequate transparency measures to receive more capital. “The World Bank is just another level of bureaucracy between those giving aid and those that might receive,” according to one CEO. “One questions the level of self-interest by the stakeholder in the institution.”

Slightly more than half of the CEOs (55%) said Group of Seven nations cannot afford major new contributions to the World Bank, given the economic situation. “The plight of the developing countries has been affected by the economic crisis, but high unemployment in the developed countries is placing a huge burden on those countries, and they are borrowing to pay those costs,” wrote one respondent.

“One has to help one’s self before one can help others. All G7 countries are being affected by the global recession and have an uphill battle ahead of them,” wrote another CEO. “It is simply not a good time to be dividing their resources.”