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Calls For Support For Vital Anti-SAP Legislation

U.S. Action Alert: Call Congress to Support Vital Anti-Structural Adjustment Legislation

(for more information: Soren Ambrose at 50 Years Is Enough Network - soren@50years.org - 202/IMF-BANK)

The International Monetary Policy Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee (there’s a mouthful) meets TOMORROW morning (Tuesday, September 11) to “mark up” legislation authorizing funding for several bodies over which it has jurisdiction.

This is an important opportunity to exploit the enormous leverage the U.S. government has over international financial institutions. Congress can approve or reject the money that backs up that leverage, and so can apply conditions of its own on the funding. This opens up a genuine opportunity for creating change: members of Congress, from any party or persuasion, can be educated about the IMF and World Bank (or, as in this case, the regional development banks), and they can demand changes that no U.S. Administration is likely to initiate on its own.

The bill that the subcommittee will be going through and revising on Tuesday includes funding for the Asian Development Fund, a major component of the Asian Development Bank (a geographically-specialized clone of the World Bank). Thanks to cooperation between the subcommittee’s chair, Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-Nebraska), and the ranking minority member, Rep. Bernie Sanders, the legislation already has in it significant measures. For example, it requires that the U.S. pursue a policy of insisting on open Board meetings at the ADB and its sister institutions, the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. This matches one of the demands prepared by the Mobilization for Global Justice (MGJ) for the Sept. 25-30 events at the annual meetings of the IMF and WB. Approving the legislation as it stands would be an unprecedented step in Congressional demands for complete openness at the international financial institutions. It will make it very difficult for the ! ! IMF and WB to escape pressure to do the same as the ADB (should the U.S. carry the day there). Already this Mobilization demand for real transparency is playing well in the pre-mobilization press coverage; this victory could greatly bolster its prospects.

Also included in the Bereuter/Sanders bill is a provision closing the “loophole” which Congress (perhaps inadvertently) created with its passage of a measure requiring the U.S. Treasury Department to oppose any Regional Development Bank program with “user fees” for primary health or education. Treasury has so far avoided enforcing this law, claiming that the loophole (ambiguity on whether user fee programs with “exemptions” for the most impoverished -- a system that has almost never worked -- can be accepted) to avoid having to actually oppose user fees. This bill would eliminate that escape hatch for Treasury. By specifically targeting health and education user fees, it aims to start the hard work of eliminating conditions of structural adjustment conditions.

There are also one, and possibly two, amendments that would begin to follow through on the Mobilization’s demands of these institutions. The first is an amendment prepared by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California), which would require that the U.S. representative to the regional development banks oppose any loans for big dam projects which do not conform to the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (WCD). The WCD was set up by high-level people from the public and private sectors; the WB was in fact instrumental in establishing the Commission. But its findings were not compatible with the free-market, anti-community approach of the big corporations and power-brokers, so the WB announced it would ignore them! This amendment reflects the Mobilization’s demand for a cessation of environmentally damaging, polluting, and deadly.

Rep. Lee is still trying to integrate the “WCD/dams” language into the opening text of the bill to be discussed. That would be the preferred alternative, but because we will not know whether that has worked until the last minute, we ask that you call the members of the subcommittee and urge them to approve or advocate for this provision.

The other amendment is being prepared by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois). It goes after another SAP condition that is becoming increasing common.would stop the U.S. from supporting policies at the Regional Development Banks which have resulted in poor people in developing countries losing their access to clean drinking water.

The intent of the amendment is to curtail U.S. support for regional development banks’ policies that promote "full cost recovery" in the water sector as part of the Bank's push to privatize public water systems. These policies have often resulted in poor people losing access to clean drinking water as a result of increased rates. You may be aware that there was an uprising in Cochabamba, Bolivia last year around this issue. Although the World Bank claimed that it was not responsible for the terms of the privatization that sparked the uprising in Bolivia, the Bolivia example is in any event clearly illustrative of the potential consequences of the World Bank's orientation. In Africa as well these policies have been associated with cholera outbreaks when poor people lost access to clean drinking water.

Please contact Members of the Subcommittee TODAY and Wednesday and ask them to support the Schakowsky Amendment to stop the World Bank from cutting off poor people's access to clean drinking water, the Lee Amendment to oppose large dams, and to oppose any attempts to gut the Bereuter/Sanders bill, which is the starting point for the "makeup." The Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121; ask to be transferred to the Member’s office. Ask to speak to the staffer who handles the International Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee, and tell him or her (or leave a message) that the Representative should support the Schakowsky Amendment to stop the regional development Bank from cutting off impoverished people's access to clean drinking water.

Please call any of the following Representatives -- it’s better if you’re in district or near district, or have some other plausible connection to the Congressman.


Democrats:

Maxine Waters, CA
Barney Frank, MA
Melvin L. Watt, NC
Barbara Lee, CA
Paul E. Kanjorski, PA
Brad Sherman, CA
Carolyn B. Maloney, NY
Luis V. Gutierrez, IL
Ken Bentsen, TX

Republicans:

Doug Bereuter, NE, Chairman
Doug Ose, CA, Vice Chairman
Marge Roukema, NJ
Richard H. Baker, LA
Michael N. Castle, DE
Jim Ryun, KS
Donald A. Manzullo, IL
Judy Biggert, IL
Mark Green, WI
Patrick J. Toomey, PA
Christopher Shays, CT
Gary G. Miller, CA
Shelley Moore Capito, WV
Mike Ferguson, NJ

Text of the Amendment on Water:

The Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States Executive Director at each international financial institution (as defined in section 1701(c)(2) of the International Financial Institutions Act) and the International Monetary Fund to oppose any loan, project, grant or other program of these institutions for: any water or wastewater system or water or wastewater system-related construction, refurbishment, reorganization, restructuring, adjustment, decentralization, corporatization, reform or other program that includes any provision that would increase the cost to poor consumers for access to clean drinking water, including any: increased cost recovery from residential water consumers; decreased public subsidy for water supply treatment, disposal, distribution or management; reduced intrasectoral subsidization of poor residential water consumers; or reduced intersectoral subsidization for residential water consumers.

50 YEARS IS ENOUGH NETWORK - 202/463-2265 - soren@50years.org - 50years@50 -years.org - www.50years.org


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