World Bank “solutions” still sugarcoat failed economic assumptions: Page 2 of 4
displaced [iii] to construct the project for Chevron, Exxonmobil, Petronas [iv] and the Cameroon Oil Transportation Company SA. In Peru the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s business-lending arm, has funnelled more than USD 23 million to support construction and expansion ofYanacocha gold mine for US-based Newmont Mining Corporation and its partner firm, Buenaventura S.A.A. [v] With the IFC even owning 5% stake in the mining project, communities have cited threats of landgrabbing and violence from company security. [vi]
Way back in the 1970s, the World Bank supported the Chico River Dam project in northern Philippines which faced the vigorous resistance of indigenous peoples whose communities would have been flooded. World Bank-funded mining, road and energy mega-projects in North East India have been similarly criticised for destructive environmental impacts, loss of livelihoods and agricultural lands, as well as violations of indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination. [vii]
But what is unique to the MFD is that these kinds of corporate-oriented “development” would be systematised further. The World Bank is even calling for tighter coordination among its institutions and more upfront roles for the IFC and its insurance and risk guarantor, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.
The road for business interests is also partly paved by the G20 economies’ Eminent Persons Group, made up of country representatives, academics but as well as a JP Morgan Chairman—almost all having past and present positions in the IMF-World Bank. Responding to the same rhetoric of a “financing gap” in the global South, they are pushing to link infrastructure with financial products [viii] as funding modes for Southern countries. The explicit aim is to make these attractive to institutional investors, [ix] that is, to international finance capital. But even economics professors see this drive for securities as akin to those that triggered the 2008 crash, as well as dangerous for developing countries which are left with less policy space and even more exposure to fluctuating financial markets. [x]
During the Annual Meetings, related buzz on “fintech” – financial technology – tried to sell it as a “key pillar” for development through peoples’ increased access to credit. Under today’s economic system, talk of “financial inclusion” would mean the use of the advancements in the technology sector to facilitate and expand access of international finance capital to developing country financial markets.
Thus the more things “change” the more they seem to stay the same, ten years since the 2008 crisis and amidst IMF warnings of another possible downturn. Regarding today’s inequalities, the meetings hatched opportunities for the World Bank to call for “investing in human capital” to improve workers’ productivity through education and healthcare. Washing their hands clean, the World Bank hides that decades of policy “advise” for labour market deregulation as well as privatisation of hospitals and educational facilities contributed to today’s high numbers of informal workers and other inequalities.
Moving forward through genuine change from the ground up
In lieu of these“solutions” founded on unchanged or merely repackaged policy and economic models, it is long overdue to heed the calls of civil society, movements and people’s