A year into the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank (IMF-WB) continues to operate under a neoliberal framework. Its annual Spring Meetings carry the fraudulent banner of “Building a Green, Resilient and Inclusive Recovery.” Since the establishment of these international financial institutions (IFIs) shortly after World War II, their loan conditionalities and programs have been dragging underdeveloped countries into deeper poverty and worsening inequalities. IFI’s favor economic liberalization and corporate plunder at the expense of social services and public welfare.
IMF-WB projects have promoted land grabbing, increased farmer debt, utter destruction of livelihood and massive displacement of Indigenous and urban poor communities. Conflict brews from injustice. As such, human rights violations are also at a high rate among the areas that are affected by IMF- WB’s infrastructural projects.
The IMF-WB hypocritically lauds a “green recovery” initiative, yet is one of the biggest enablers of desecration of natural resources. Its continuous support for fossil fuel projects which undermine climate change goals and its megaprojects have caused irreparable damage to the environment.
As the world reels from the public health crisis of the Covid pandemic, IMF-WB maintains its charge towards the privatization of public services like transportation and education. The prioritization of the private sector in the IMF-WB Covid 19 response is blatantly expressed in the scale of its financial allocation, channeling 8 billion USD from the 14 Billion USD Emergency Response fund for capitalist enterprise.
The conditionalities of IMF-WB loans, supposedly granted to help reduce poverty, often take the form of austerity measures, imposed financial targets, and structural adjustment programs (SAPs). All of these have done long-term harm to vulnerable sectors, like workers, peasants, and indigenous peoples. It means that accepting loans binds states in agreement for reduced spending on public services. At a time when overall health and well-being should be put at a premium, the concurrence of IFI priorities and austerity is an affront to the oppressed peoples of the world.
In the Asia-Pacific region, for example, the IMF has granted more than USD 1.8 million in financing spread across countries like Papua New Guinea, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The WB, meanwhile, has approved more than USD 2 billion worth of financing to countries in the region, such as Samoa, Myanmar, and Vietnam. These countries are among many that are already mired in debt even before the pandemic.
In the case of Ecuador, one of the conditions attached to a loan is the reduction in the number of fixed minimum wages. In the Philippines, the raising of excise taxes on consumer products usually purchased by low-income families is another. Moreover, in IMF-WB projects, there is a push for systematic undermining of labor rights, such as lack of union representation, increased contractualization, among others.
IMF-WB insists on financial targets as conditionalities for debtor governments, even if countries are struggling to cope with the pandemic crisis. This would mean that in the post-COVID scenario, the governments would impose more rigid austerity measures, cutting public spending at the time the public needs it the most.
Call to action
Despite the challenges posed by the economic recession and pandemic to the people, the IMF-WB continues to forward a destructive and profit-oriented recovery agenda for the interest of big businesses and financial corporations. Behind the IMF-WB’s program for a “green”, digital and inclusive recovery hides the real agenda of sustaining the neoliberal framework for the creation of a global South to amass large sums of capital from cheap labour, poverty wages and intensified exploitation; intensified extraction of resources and land-grabbing; and privatization of social services such as health. In turn, the peoples’ economic and democratic spaces are shrinking.
It is high-time for the peoples’ movements and organizations of workers, peasants, migrants, women, urban poor, indigenous people and other sectors to take back our rights and reclaim our future. We must do away with the decades-long neoliberal economic system that has brought upon demise to the people. Dismantle the IMF-WB and cancel the debts from all financial institutions. We must oppose the debt-driven and profit-oriented responses of the IMF-WB, and forward a recovery agenda that ensures people’s rights and collective development.
Working people’s rights, not corporate recovery!
Cancel the debts now!
Fight for people-centered pandemic response!
Reclaim our future from IMF-WB!
JUNK IMF-World Bank!