World Bank’s aid policy challenged

AS the World Bank meets in Dublin this week we, as Irish global justice organisations, would like to highlight our deep concerns about the often devastating impact of the bank’s practices on the lives of poor people throughout the world.

The World Bank meeting here in Ireland represents a crucial stage of the negotiations on the levels of funding that will be provided by the richest members of the bank to the International Development Association — the arm of the bank that lends to the poorest countries.

We are calling on Finance Minister Brian Cowen not to provide funding to this round of negotiations unless the World Bank commits to ending its practice of attaching economic conditions to its loans and grants.

Mr Cowen should instead channel this aid through mechanisms that do not impose the same unreasonable demands on recipient countries.

The World Bank’s practice of attaching economic conditions to its aid means that the disbursal of its funding is dependent on impoverished countries implementing certain policies.

These polices can be highly controversial and have had devastating effects. For example, the World Bank made its aid to Nicaragua dependent on the privatisation of its electricity sector.

This has resulted in power cuts and spiralling electricity costs to the poor in Nicaragua. Yet today many countries face World Bank conditions requiring either full or partial privatisation of the energy sectors.

The continuing influence of the World Bank on the policymaking of impoverished countries has damaged the independence and sovereignty of these nations and the accountability of the governments and parliaments to the millions of poor people living in them.

That is why we are calling on Finance Minister Brian Cowen to stop paying for poverty at the World Bank and to protect the quality of Ireland’s aid by re-routing this money to aid mechanisms that do not impose such demands on recipient countries.

Joe Murray,

Afri

Dier Tong

Africa Centre

Nina Sachau

Comhlámh

David McNair

Christian Aid Ireland

Nessa Ní Chasaide

Debt and Development Coalition Ireland

David Joyce

ICTU

José Antonio Gutiérrez

Latin America Solidarity Centre

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