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Thursday, October 22, 2020

CONFRONT THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND-WORLD BANK GROUP (IMF-WB) ANNUAL MEETING (October 12-18, 2020)

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  • End corporate capture of development; Uphold people’s rights and welfare.
  • Stop financing dirty energy. No to socially and environmentally-destructive climate change solutions. No to corporate climate solutions! People-powered climate action now!
  • Debt cancellations nowto public and private creditorsGrants not loans for COVID-19 responses.
  • Governments – Stop squandering people’s taxes on IMF-World Bank loans! Prioritise people’s rights and welfare!
  • Reverse health privatization and strengthen public health systemsto provide genuinely universal coverage.
  • Reclaim our health, rights, and future! Fight for the people’s right and welfare! Resist corporate bailouts and sham “recovery”! Shut down IMF-World Bank!

The Boards of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are holding their Annual Meeting online for the first time, on October 12-18, 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has triggered a greater economic crisis than the 2008-09 Great Recession, causing severe hardship for billions of people and triggering emergency economic and security policies from all affected governments. As well the IMF-WB Annual Meeting comes weeks before the US Presidential and Congressional Elections, which will have a significant but unpredictable global impact.

The IMF-WB has been instrumental in forcing neoliberal globalization policies on hundreds of countries around the world since the 1980s. They are directly accountable for decades of free market policies and austerity programs that devastated agricultural economies, stifled industrial development, and emaciated health systems through privatization, among many other anti-development outcomes.

When the pandemic struck, the IMF-WB made a show of providing COVID-19 response funds and advocating debt moratoriums. Seemingly reversing from their neoliberalism, they also called for greater public spending on health and social protection. The health spending however includes channeling financing to private sector health providers spawned by privatization. At the same time, they are using their seeming responsiveness to lobby for neoliberal ‘structural reforms’ including continued deregulation and trade and investment liberalization.

Despite grand gestures, the IMF-WB is actually providing minimal assistance to governments with only minor debt relief to mainly smaller heavily indebted nations.  This does not change IMF WB’s nature as an imperialist tool, nor its policy and history of drowning the global South in the quagmire of debt.  They are more forthcoming with new loans that, as ever, include conditionalities such as for ensuring ‘fiscal consolidation’ and ‘fiscal sustainability’ as soon as the pandemic settles. The IMF-WB assumes that the sharp economic crisis will be followed by a sharp economic rebound, facilitated by one or more successful COVID-19 vaccines early in 2021. The IMF-WB underplay the global economic weakness of capitalism which was so apparent before the pandemic struck in March 2020. They intend to maintain the current global economic structure in which they ensure that poorer countries remain in the debt trap created by WB and private international banking loans, and unequal trading relations based on export of raw materials and low-value added manufactures and the import of high value-added products.

The pandemic has been marked by severe failure of global institutions to work together to contain the coronavirus, to strengthen public health systems, to provide income support to all people during shutdowns, and to prepare for an economic recovery that unites and includes everyone.

Decades of neo-liberal policies meant that public health systems everywhere were under-staffed and under-resourced, that there was a global shortage of Personal Protective Equipment and coronavirus test kits, and that there had never been a vaccine developed to control a coronavirus. Big pharmaceutical companies have ensured that they will control and profit from any COVID-19 vaccine that is developed, putting at risk the lives of billions of people in countries which cannot afford the prices now being set – between US$8 and $74 per person vaccinated.

The US under President Trump has ensured that the international community could not act, and has antagonized China over the pandemic, on top of the earlier US-China trade war. The US also announced plans to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) including cutting US funding.  The IMF-WB Annual Meeting is set to deepen this failure by continuing with its minimal response to the pandemic.

If Trump wins the election, the global failure of capitalism and the US post-war hegemony will sharpen. If Biden wins, there will be a switch back to US-led multilateralism, but based on the neoliberal assumptions of global corporate domination, which had already failed before the pandemic.

This is a scenario for greater economic, political and social crisis into 2021. It is a massive challenge to the global people’s movements against imperialist exploitation and war to develop a movement that can unite people everywhere and give hope that together we can create a peaceful, just and environmentally sustainable future.

We have success stories for people’s struggles against IMF-WB projects such as: Philippine’s opposition of the Chico Dams project (1976-85); Uganda’s advocacy campaigns against Transport Sector Development Project  (2015); Congo’s campaigns against the Inga-3 Basse Chute & Mid-Size Hydropower Development Technical Assistance Project (2016) and Lebanon’s campaigns against the Bisri Valley Dam project (June 2020).

In September 2018, together with People Over Profit Network, we have successfully campaigned for a People’s Global Conference in Bali, Indonesia during the IMF-WB Annual Meeting.

The 2020 IMF-WB Annual Meeting is an important opportunity to raise the democratic, anti-imperialist voices of the global people’s movements, an opportunity we must maximise.

Call to action:

We enjoin ILPS chapters, commissions, and their allies to launch actions and mobilizations (virtual or physical) against the IMF-WB during the course of the official meetings (October 12-18), focusing on October 12 as a Global Day of Action against IMF-WB.

Background paper for reference: https://ilps.info/en/2020/10/06/imf-wb-as-a-tool-of-imperialism/

ILPS chapters, commissions and allied organizations may send their materials (Statements, calls and demands, photos, videos) to ILPS Commission 2 on or before October 8, for release on October 12 Global Day of Action. Please send materials to the following emails:

Malem Ningthouja – mningthouja@yahoo.com

Sonny Africa – sonnyafrica@ibon.org

ILPS Commission 2 – socioeconcommission2@ilps.info

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