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News :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Social Welfare
IMF out of the Philippines and South countries now, protesters demand
20 Sep 2006
On the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) together with the World Bank in Singapore, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and other civil society organizations blame “the Fund” for being the single most influential factor for the worsening poverty in the Philippines and other countries in the South.
Around 100 protesters stormed the gates of the IMF office based inside the Bangko Sentral compound, denouncing “the Fund” for its structural adjustment programs that contribute greatly to the poverty of many poor countries – including the Philippines.

“The IMF is known to wreck havoc in poor economies, with its structural adjustment programs of tight monetary policy and harsh fiscal discipline in order to pay country debts,” said FDC Vice President Francis Isaac. “This means that poor countries cannot fund social services like education, health, housing, and others because structural adjustment programs ensure that debt servicing remains the top priority!” he added.

Presenting the IMF with a crown of flowers as a sign of its death, the protesters demanded the immediate closure of the IMF office in Manila. They also demanded the IMF’s withdrawal from all countries in the South.

“The IMF has no business being here; they have already wrecked so much havoc with their presence in South economies. Their policies of privatization, liberalization, deregulation, and tight monetary and fiscal programs have been the bane of many a poor country. Their presence is not welcome here, and they should not stay a minute longer,” said Isaac.

The country is in a post-monitoring program with the IMF. Unlike a full monitoring program wherein the Fund actively intervenes in the country’s monetary and fiscal policies through stabilization and structural adjustment programs, a post-monitoring program means that the IMF is in a standby position, prepared to dip its fingers into the country’s internal economy at any time.

Nevertheless, the IMF’s presence in the Philippines deters the government from veering away from its harsh conditionalities. The long-term effects of past IMF stabilization and structural adjustment programs and conditionalities cannot be ignored. They continue to haunt poor Filipinos today who have no access to education and health services.

“We demand the immediate closure of the IMF here in the Philippines and in all countries of the South. The IMF has no business meddling in internal economies, especially if its policies and programs contribute to the worsening poverty of our people,” said Isaac.

September 19, 2006


On WB’s anti-corruption drive: Nothing but a hoax

In a forum held in Manila last Tuesday, World Bank Managing Director Juan Jose Daboub boasted the institution’s comprehensive campaign in fighting corruption. He declared corruption as the single greatest obstacle in obtaining genuine development, and that the Bank proposed the crackdown of erring governments and the imposition of sanctions on corrupt-ridden countries, which will include call for payment and suspension of program loans.

Confirming that the WB has detected misused project funds and loans, Daboub said the Bank plans to recover lost money by mounting an anti-graft strategy so that funds can be used to improve the lives of the poor majority.

Apparently, to the untrained eye, it seems that the WB is finally doing something right for once. However, to those who are familiar with the history, structures and policies of the Bank, the idea of the WB doing a sincere anti-corruption drive is highly suspect.

For one, WB Managing Director Daboub failed to mention that his big boss is former US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who was largely acknowledged as the chief architect of the Iraq war. WB President Wolwofitz was branded as the ideological icon behind the decision to invade Iraq—a bloody invasion that was literally exposed by Colin Powell’s former chief of staff in the US State of Department as a hoax, deceiving the international community about the truth of Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition cannot help but ask: Is Paul Wolfowitz, the chief planner of the great Iraq war hoax is now carrying out another ruse this time by wearing the eroding credibility of WB by telling the whole world that his institution is going to rid the Third World nations of corruption? Is this just a simple if not a crude political makeover on the part of Mr. Wolfowitz and his bank transforming their image from a greedy creditor bank into an honest, morally upright foundation? How can we trust the sincerity of the WB’s anti-corruption campaign if the very person representing this institution has not made any compunction in saying that the Iraq invasion was wrong in the first place?

Second, the history of the WB is a long history of strong sponsorship of despotic and corrupt regimes. The list of governments in power because of power grabs and corruption supported by the World Bank is striking. Among the best known examples are the following:

1) Shah's dictatorship in Iran in 1953
2) the military dictatorship in Guatemala in 1954
3) the Duvaliers in Haiti from 1957
4) General Park Chung Hee in South Korea from 1961
5) the Brazilian generals' dictatorship from 1964
6) Mobutu in the Congo and Suharto in Indonesia from 1965
7) the Thai army leaders from 1966
8) Idi Amin Dada in Uganda and General Hugo Banzer in Bolivia in 1971
9) our own Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines from 1972
10) Augusto Pinochet in Chile
11) the Uruguayan generals and Habyarimana in Rwanda from 1973
12) the military junta in Argentina from 1976
13) Arap Moi's regime in Kenya from 1978
14) a dictatorship in Pakistan from 1978
15) Saddam Hussein's coup in 1979
16) the Turkish military dictatorship from 1980

Even now, some of these governments are still around, triumphant and still in power namely: the dictatorial regime in China; Deby's dictatorship in Chad; Ben Ali in Tunisia; Musharaf in Pakistan. It is also currently supporting the corrupt and illegitimate government of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Without a doubt, WB Managing Director Daboub’s pompous anti-corruption drive with the strong backing of Paul Wolfowitz is clearly drawing a straw man. The long history of the World Bank supporting overtly corrupt and dictatorial regimes in the form of loans as well as technical and economic assistance speaks for itself. No wonder the Annual Meetings of the Bank will be done in the garrison state of Singapore next week, WB feels very comfortable in the company of despots.

Rightly, the real reason behind the sudden somersault of WB regarding corruption is not coming from a developmental frame but from a very political one. The World Bank together with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is fighting to stay relevant in a time when in almost every country these institutions operate; they are met with strong criticism and protest over their bitter economic packages, unjust debt conditionalities and flawed structural adjustment programs. The Bank’s supposed anti-corruption campaign is just a deodorizer to address its crisis of relevance and a conscious effort to hide its morbid past and high crimes to the poor people of the world.

To date, the World Bank is involved and highly answerable on why some 1.2 billion people located in South countries live in abject poverty, over half of sub-Saharan children are starving or malnourished, 1.6 billion people in developing countries are without potable water and well over two billion are unemployed or underemployed as stated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

In the final analysis, the World Bank and its malevolent twin institution IMF are fundamentally corrupt institutions. The systematic and cognizant scheme of transferring the wealth of poor nations to explicitly rich Northern countries by using the so-called “debt of the South” as an instrument and as a leverage in imposing anti-people and anti-environment policies and programs is proof of this. That is why the bank’s anti-graft campaign must not be taken seriously. It is a sick practical joke where nobody is laughing. It is an unsophisticated swindle only the gullible will buy.

September 14, 2006

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