The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

IMF and World Bank Meetings


The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are holding their annual meeting in Washington, D.C. this weekend.

ERIC LeCOMPTE, via Julia Dowling
Magalasi is director of the Malawi Economic Justice Network.

LeCompte is executive director and Dowling is communications coordinator of the Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of more than 75 religious denominations, human rights groups and development agencies. The group is organizing a teach-in in Washington on Thursday and a protest on Friday.

The network just released a report titled "Unmasking the IMF: The Post-Financial Crisis Imperative for Reform." LeCompte said today: "The IMF's rhetoric has changed, but this paper finds that very little has actually changed in practice. The institution needs reform to truly support a global recovery."

Based in Kenya, Ambrose is development finance coordinator for ActionAid International. He said today: "The delegates to the IMF annual meeting this weekend must finally address a long-running debate over how the institution is governed. For years we've been saying that it's run by the rich countries, but imposes conditions on the poor ones. Now, some of the emerging economies (China, India, Brazil, etc.) are demanding a greater voice, and the U.S. has supported them with a tactical maneuver that forces the European countries that control 9 out of 24 seats to either give some up or watch as Brazil, India, Argentina, and 23 African countries lose all their representation on the board. It is absurd that it has come to this: Europe must get its act together and agree on a way to consolidate. But even more important would be to institute a reform such as 'double-majority voting,' which would count each individual country's vote, that would actually increase the voice of the poorest countries in determining the IMF's policies.

"These shifts are part of the changes in the global balance of power which the financial crisis accelerated and which are at last being accepted, however gradually. Once these structural issues are sorted out, the IMF and its member countries must look at how to prevent future crises. One of the fundamental changes that must happen is shifting away from reliance on the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency. Until that happens, with the dollar replaced by a global neutral alternative, we will continue to see distorted deficits and surpluses, with countries like China freezing hundreds of billions of dollars in reserves when they could be helping feed the poor and contribute to development. It will take a while, but the international community must start charting this path now."

Background: The British Guardian recently reported that as a result of the financial crisis: "The IMF estimates that 71 million fewer people will have escaped poverty by 2015; an additional 1.2 million children might die before the age of five between 2009 and 2015; and 100 million more people might remain without access to safe water."

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.