Rich Countries do it Again
Rich Countries do it Again
New Zealand aid agencies are angry that the just completed spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank once again offered no hope for the world's poorest peoples.
"The rich countries have done it again," said Christian World Service Director, Jonathan Fletcher. "They totally dominate the board of the IMF and the World Bank and control all their monetary resources. They have the capacity to cut the levels of debt that are strangling the economies of many developing countries and to end the economic policies that put theory before people. With their immense financial reserves they could literally save the lives of millions of people. But they don't."
In releasing the Global Monitoring Report 2004, the IMF warned that "most developing countries will fail to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals that serve as targets for the global effort to reduce poverty and improve services for the poor by 2015." ( www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2004/pr0485.htm)
At the press conference launching the meetings World Bank president, James Wolfensohn, noted that between 2002 and 2003, aid increased by less than US$ 2 billion to only $60.5 billion. (Global Monitoring Report 2004, Chapter 11, paragraph 5)
"Working for aid agencies like Caritas and Christian World Service," said Peter Zwart, Programmes Manager of Caritas, "our experience has been that when poor countries have to pay back debt and are advised to cut teacher salaries and raise school fees, it means that children don't go to school. When water is privatised, as the Government of Sri Lanka has been trying to do under World Bank advice, it means that many will go without or drink unsafe water. The IMF and World Bank don't get it. Their policies and advice won't free people from poverty. If they meant what they said, they would cancel Third World debt, stop insisting on blanket trade liberalisation and the privatisation of essential services. Good development based in the local community and on sound people-centred economics stops poverty."
Caritas and Christian World Service are the lead agencies for Jubilee Aotearoa, a coalition of agencies and individuals campaigning for debt cancellation for the most indebted poor countries and for an end to loans made on the condition that a country follows economic advice that further impoverishes the poorest people. It was formed in 1997 and supported the signing of the international petition calling for debt cancellation to mark the new millennium. The petition was signed by 24 million people of whom 63 847 were New Zealanders. Jubilee Aotearoa is currently undertaking a postcard campaign asking the New Zealand government to campaign for deeper debt cancellation as a strategy to enable people to escape poverty. www.debtaction.org.nz