World Bank “solutions” still sugarcoat failed economic assumptions: Page 3 of 4
This is especially the case today. At one level, PPPs have increasingly been exposed by civil society organisations for undue financial costs as well as social costs. People’s rights to basic services are at stake with increased “user fees” required of hospitals, water and transport services to recoup private investment costs. Current trends to actively reverse privatisation of water services have also been documented in many Southern countries. [xi]
At another level, civil society also raised concerns regarding the MFD approach. During the Bali Annual Meetings, the Peoples’ Global Conference called to “reclaim our rights, reclaim our future.” Starting from acknowledgement of the deep problems in neoliberal models, people’s movements such as the Gerakan Rakyat Menentang IMF-WB have called to “shut down” the IMF-World Bank and to resist entrenched business interests in the development agenda throughout the duration of the Annual Meetings.
These initiatives are possible building blocks for peoples in the South to build their own collective power to exact accountability from their governments as well as the IMF-WB. The repression encountered by the Peoples’ Global Conference in Bali point to the urgency for toiling peoples to assert popular sovereignty and their political and economic rights. Movements need to be watchful of the undemocratic legacies of the IMF-World Bank as another Annual Meeting outside the United States is set for 2021, to be held in Morocco.
More than half a century since the IMF-World Bank were founded, and decades since the World Trade Organisation, major policy actors who have been at the forefront of neoliberal globalisation now talk with sour words about its legacies. The UN Conference on Trade and Development recently released reports calling out the “free trade delusion,” while criticising “financing gap” narratives in infrastructure that neglect the primacy of national development strategies. [xii] A UN Rapporteur has criticised the “tsunami of privatisation” that had been pushed by the IMF, World Bank and even the United Nations that he admits prioritises profit over people’s economic rights. [xiii] Research published through IMF channels revealed increasing market concentration and corporate power since the 1980s, [xiv] and one even called neoliberalism “oversold.” [xv]
At a bigger picture, people and their organisations, especially movements, need to strengthen efforts in resisting the still dominant neoliberal policy track through exercising their sovereignty vis-à-vis their governments and international finance institutions.
This is to reclaim policy space for development and trade that are genuinely democratic, and work on principles of complementarity, solidarity and mutual aid. This is to assert that these institutions should primarily function for, and should be accountable to, workers, farmers, indigenous peoples and other small-scale producers. Specifically, this could mean national or international people-led institutions that utilise capital controls; that tax corporations progressively and end taxes burdening the poor; that end illicit financial flows and corporate “rentierism”; that have mechanisms to evaluate whether development and trade policy uplift the grassroots. Through people’s sovereignty, movements could move towards reclaiming development and its processes for addressing people’s needs, and not for corporate greed. #
[i]Agence France-Presse. 2018. “Activists slam police for blocking anti-IMF event