IMF, World Bank Policymakers Plan Spring Meeting
|Organizers say thousands of
demonstrators will pour into the
streets of the US capital on
Sunday 16 April 2000
WASHINGTON, April 11 (AFP) - International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World
Bank policymakers gather here later this week to debate the future of the
global economy but their closed-door deliberations could easily be eclipsed
by massive street protests.
Organizers say thousands of demonstrators will pour into the streets of the
US capital on Sunday [16 April], when the IMF's international monetary and
financial committee convenes, and Monday, when the development committee
of the World Bank is set to meet.
Agence France Presse, April 11 2000
"Under Siege, IMF, World Bank Policymakers Plan Spring Meeting"
Some of the delegates, in fact, may be unable to get to the discussions,
as one goal of the protests is to "shut down" the meetings through non-violent
Activists here say they hope to build on momentum generated in Seattle last
December, when a huge street mobilization disrupted a ministerial meeting
of the World Trade Organization.
They are now taking aim at the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank, whose harshly conditioned lending programs, they charge, have harmed
the environment and imposed poverty on millions of people in developing
But IMF officials insist that the global economy is doing substantially better
than had been expected 12 months ago.
A Fund survey to be released here Wednesday will show that global output
should grow by more than four percent this year, with inflation remaining
well in check, according to acting IMF managing director Stanley Fischer.
The World Bank last week reported that developing countries were likely to
enjoy average growth rates of 4.6 percent this year, a sharp revision from
its earlier estimates.
Despite such benign overall circumstances, as well as the impressive turnaround
in Asian economies that floundered in 1997-1998 and were helped by the Fund
and the Bank, the two institutions are getting little credit.
They have been pilloried by non-governmental organizations [NGOs] and
by a blue-ribbon commission appointed by the US Congress to analyze their
A report from the commission last month faulted the IMF's short-term response
to crises as "too costly ... too slow ... and often incorrect" and said it
failed to improve economic conditions in the developing world.
The Bank was criticized for continuing to lend to wealthier developing nations
that have access to private capital and was urged to re-focus its activities
on poor countries.
Fischer has acknowledged that the IMF may have erred in the past but insists
that its financial assistance packages, its surveillance of national economies
and the technical assistance it offers remain valid activities.
"We are the way in which the world spreads its knowledge, its collective
knowledge, about how to do policies, to countries that need that knowledge,"
he said recently.
"I'm concerned of course that critics see us as creating damage for the world
economy. We are a force for the good and we believe that the process of opening
up the world economy in the last 50 years has been one of the absolutely
critical driving forces that has created more prosperity around the world
than has ever been seen, more rapidly than has ever been seen."
Fischer said the Fund had been working with local authorities to ensure that
the meetings take place despite the protests.
"I hope we can reason with our critics, those who write in the scholarly
journals and Congressional reports, and those who are criticising us in the
When they do get down to business, according to IMF officials, Fund policymakers
-- finance ministers and central bank governors -- will discuss internal
reforms, a revision of IMF lending facilities, measures to strengthen
surveillance and new rules to ensure that IMF financial assistance is properly
used by beneficiary countries.
World Bank officials are expected to consider stepped-up debt relief for
the world's poorest nations, poverty reduction initiatives and the campaign
to combat AIDS.
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