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PLEASE SIGN UP AGAINST THE WORLD BANK

(On September 21, the 52nd Board of Governors of the World Bank will be meeting in Hong Kong. An alliance of local and regional organisation in Hong Kong under the banner of the "Solidarity against the IMF-WB" is set to hold a public forum and action on that day. Request is made to all friends to send their comments on this draft statement and to sign up if you want to support the initiative. Kindly initiate solidarity actions on the said date and inform the Asian students association of the action taken).

The 52nd Joint Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of World Bank and the International Monetary Fund takes place in Hong Kong at a time when the global economy is in disarray.

Conceived by 44 nations who came together to draw up plans for an international monetary fund and a bank for reconstruction, a monster was unleashed on the very day it was born. In July 1944 came the ugly creation called the IMF-WB.

When it was created, the IMF was to be the provider of short-term, loans to countries experiencing trade account deficits and negative balance of payments. The WB on the other hand was to help rebuild countries ruined by the war by providing loans for the construction of roads, ports and other infrastructure. However, in actual practice the IMF-WB was designed to. secure the control of big capitalist countries over the world's resources which were in the hands of the poorer nations. The loans provided by the IMF-WB to the third world countries are not simply loans without any string attached. Strict conditions securing the economic and political interest of its big donor countries have to be "mutually" agreed upon before any loan is released.

Through strategies such as free trade, free enterprise, import substitute industralisation (ISI), export-oriented industralisation (E01) and structural adjustment program (SAP), the IMF-WB has fortuitously spread chaos and misery. It has brought about nothing but calamity instead of prosperity to borrowing nations.

The IMF-WB's penchant for megaprojects, its fanatic faith in technological fixes to social and environmental problems, its maniacal need to be in control over specific development projects and larger development plans, its scorn over democratic processes in planning and control over development strategies speak of its contempt for the poor and marginalised people whose lives it is supposed to improve.

The IMF-WB has not only assisted but created phenomenal tragedies to the people and environment. Its massive dam project in India has damned thousands of the nations poorest people, its road building project in Brazil has speeded up forest destruction, its transmigration scheme in Indonesia has exacerbated

tensions on rain forest ecosystems and impoverished tens of thousands of people. There are a lot of other IMF-WB assisted and created projects that are not well known but nonetheless have profoundly created misery and deprivation to millions of people around the world.

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In the meantime, countries in debted to the IMF-WB continue to be mired into poverty. To solve the debt crisis it helped create in the early 1980's it imposed to third world countries what is known as SAP. At present, the SAP is bringing havoc to many a poor countries economy. Wanton privatisation, liberalisation and deregulation of trade and industry has tormented poor people in the world. Devaluation, inflation, ever-spiralling prices of basic commodities, higher and higher tax rates are only some of the IMF-WB's devastating imposition that has brought about impoverishment to hundreds of millions of people, contraction of many third world economies and the destruction of the economic base from which Third World could build autonomous economies and societies .

to be cont. on page 24


Asian Women Workers Newsletter Vol. 17 No. 1 January 1998 20