Government supports SP proposal on World Bank

9 April 2008

Government supports SP proposal on World Bank

The coalition cabinet of centre-right Christian parties and centre-left social democrats today promised its support for a proposal from the SP that pressure should be put on the World Bank to cease its practice of putting economic conditions on countries seeking financial support. The World Bank, which extends loans to countries for infrastructure projects, has for decades imposed such conditions, obliging privatisation, liberalisation, and a reduction in state spending, including on such vital matters as health care and education.

Despite the damaging consequences of these policies for the development of the countries in question, numerous studies have shown that the World Bank is continuing to impose conditions of this kind. The cabinet has now stated that the World Bank should change its ways, a position which the SP has long held and long attempted to bring on to the political agenda.

Ewout Irrgang SP Member of Parliament and development spokesman Ewout Irrgang said that he was pleased by today's undertaking by Development Minister Bert Koenders. “The cabinet has left no doubt that compulsory liberalisation and privatisation must stop," he noted. "I will be holding them to this. Every time that we are informed, for example, of a water privatisation project imposed by the World Bank, we'll be sounding the alarm.”

The SP used today's debate to express once again the party's extreme dissatisfaction with the lack of any real moves to democratise either the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank. Although the distribution of votes within the IMF has been reformed, in reality this has changed very little when it comes to the extremely limited influence exercised by developing countries. As Irrgang points out, with voting strength being in effect determined by a country's wealth, "developing countries have hardly seen any increase in their share of the votes. This remains at barely 1.6% - fewer than one in seven - as opposed to the 60%, a solid majority of six out of ten, held by the richest countries. This just isn't acceptable, it must be changed."

Prior to the debate Ewout Irrgang attended a lobby on Het Plein – the square outside the national Parliament – organised by Amsterdam-based development and solidarity group A SEED.

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