The International Monetary Fund turns 65 this year. Until the current economic crisis, it had reduced its workload drastically to a near-retirement level — its total loan portfolio plummeted by 92 percent in four years. But like many senior citizens, the Fund has kept working past retirement age — and is now expanding its responsibilities.
The I.M.F. has a track record that seems to have been almost completely ignored in discussions of a proposed $750 billion increase in its resources. Nearly 12 years ago, a financial crisis hit Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. The word “contagion” became part of the financial reporting lexicon as the crisis spread to Russia, Brazil, Argentina and other countries. Continue reading
Speech delivered by Mary Ann Manahan, a water justice activist based in the Philippines during the press conference of the Peoples’ Water Forum at Marmara Hotel, Istanbul, Turkey on March 19, 2009. She spoke on behalf of the Asian delegation present at the Peoples’ Water Forum.
Asia’s water resources are described as a paradox. One ofabundance—we are home to tremendous water resources: great rivers systems and lakes in Tibet, India, Southeast Asia, and China. But at the same time, of scarcity— we have the highest number of people unserved by either water supply or sanitation. 715 million people in Asia have no access to safe drinking water, while 1.9 billion or close to 50% of its population has no access to sanitation. This scarcity has provoked water wars in communities and interstate conflicts between China, the Mekong region, India and Pakistan who are fighting on transboundary issues, water sharing, and dam constructions.
Pakistani businessmen in the largest, prosperous province Punjab, responding to the advice furnished by the World Bank:
…the cost of doing business is increasing due to our exposure to IFIs-imposed structural reforms’ conditionalities and cross conditionalities resulting in higher oil prices, utility charges and tighter fiscal policy and monetary policy.
Today, we are again faced with an imminent slow down in the manufacturing sector due to withdrawal of subsidies especially from oil, gas and electricity. In the Budget 2008-09 the government announced reduction in important subsidies for food, oil, gas and electricity.
The LCCI Vice President Shafqat saeed Piracha said that cost of doing business is set to further rise in Pakistan due especially due to misplaced and ill-timed withdrawal of subsidy on oil, gas and electricity.
This is going to suppress industrial development growth in Pakistan. This is especially going to suffocate the development of SMEs in manufacturing sector that despite lack of policy focus and difficulties in accessing credit and modern training facilities played an important role in employment generation and exports since the mid 1970s.
Instead of imposing micromanaging our economy and imposing harsh conditionalities on us the IFIs and the World Bank should provide us more help in the areas of technical knowledge and skills for improving our social and physical infrastructure.
Mohsin Babbar (the POST)
ISLAMABAD: The People’s Rights Movement (PRM) has slammed the new government for continuing to toe the economic policies prescribed by the international financial institutions (IFIs). It has warned that if there is no clean break off with the neo-liberal orthodoxy championed by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Asian Development Bank (ADB), providing economic relief to working people will remain a pipe dream.
Such a practice would make the new government indistinguishable from the previous one and it would soon become deeply unpopular amongst ordinary Pakistanis, said PRM according to a news release issued here Sunday. Zahoor Khan of PRM has said that the government’s recent promise to the WB to cut subsidy on oil reflects just how little sovereignty it actually enjoys. He said that in the past food subsidies have been slashed at the behest of the IFIs and the fallouts were now widely evident with basic food items almost unaffordable for even white-collar salaried families. Continue reading