.ECO No. 5, 1 October 1994, English Eco, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Aut�noma of Madrid, c/ Arzobispo Morcillo 2-4. Room: Seminario V. Tel/Fax: (+34-1) 397 53 40 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org The english version of ECO was produced by Maike Rademaker, Miles Goldstick, Ola Onatade & Bernd Schneider. Illustrations: Ann Stafford Thank you to all who contributed articles, carried out reproduction and distribution, and all who have had to put up with a stressed ECO team. Contents * All India Strike Successful * World Bank and IMF in India: Increases in Poverty and Hunger * * "It's Not Yet Over Now, Baby Blue" * Bretton Woods Institutions Become Master of Administrating Ignorance * Successful City Excursion * There's a Climate for Action - Climate Action Days * African Incomes Fall But Hope Lies in Commodity Prices, Says IMF * Demo and Programme 1-5 Ocotber ALL INDIA STRIKE SUCCESSFUL On 29 September 1994 a nation-wide strike was held in India called by the National Platform of Mass Organisations in protest against India's structural adjustment programme and signing of GATT. The Platform is comprised of 56 mass organisations and is backed by the left political parties and Janta Dal. The strike affected functioning of banks, financial institutions and public sector units across the county. In several States, normal life came to complete halt during the strike. The States severely affected were Bengal, Bihar, Tripura, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The strike evoked a good response banking, coal, steel industry, insurance, post and telegraph. The strike was the eighth in a series of protests against SAP during the past two years. "This strike is a bigger success than the earlier ones", said Mr. K. Pandhe, General Secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions. According t him, nearly four million State government employees throughout the country participated in the strike while about 80% of the mine workers stayed away from work. Agricultural workers participated in the protest in large numbers in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Bihar. Source: Fax 30 Sept. 1994 addressed to Indian participants at the Forum from: Public Interest Research Group, 142, Maitri Apartments, Plot No. 28, Indraprastha Extension, Delhi-110092, India. Tel. 2224233. Fax: (091)-(011)-2224233 WORLD BANK AND IMF IN INDIA: INCREASES IN POVERTY AND HUNGER The WB and the IMF started their well known structural adjustment programme (SAP) in India in July 1991. India sought assistance from the WB primarily because its foreign exchange reserve was very low, equivalent to only two week's imports. A foreign exchange reserve equivalent to three month's imports is considered safe. One of the principal causes that sparked off this "crises" of low foreign exchange reserves was the Iraqi war of 1991. As usual, the SAP in India consisted of a cut in subsidies to agricultural inputs and to food distributed to the poor through the public distribution system. There were cuts in government spending on social sectors, like basic health and primary education, in infrastructure and other vital sectors. Interest rates were sought to be made market determined. Devaluation of the currency (Indian Rupee) was resorted to. Trade was liberalised, the economy was sought to be deregulated, and the public sector is being dismantled. The consequences of these policies have been disastrous. Under the impact of the policy option under SAP, urban unemployment increased by four million between 1991 and 1993. Rural unemployment has risen to 110 million in a work force of about 400 million. Growth in the industrial sector has been very low, which is why the rate of growth in the organised sector has been dismal. Food distributed through the public distribution system has become so expensive that the poor people, for whom such food is meant, can not buy this food. Food prices have increased by up to 85% between 1992 and 1994 (October). Purchase of rice and wheat has fallen by up to 50% from the public distribution system. Food output in the economy, in two of the last three years, has also fallen. Net availability of pulses and cereals has fallen to 465 grams per capita per day from 510 grams per capita per day in 1991. Thus millions of people who live below the poverty line (400 million in India) are facing greater relative hunger and are malnourished. In its attempt to cut government spending, public expenditures on health and education have been neglected. The effects of greater hunger and malnutrition, together with the effects of lower outlay on education, make it clear that the WB and IMF policies will have dismal effects for generations. "Three years are enough" as far as the poor in India are concerned! Amitava Mukherjee, Actionaid India Contact: Actionaid India, 3 Rest House Road, Bangalore 560 001, India. Tel. 5586682. Fax: 080 5586284. "IT'S NOT YET OVER NOW, BABY BLUE" While a number of NGOs will continue their work in Madrid during next week, many will leave Madrid after the Alternative Forum. This leaves only two days for deliberations on future networking in the ongoing campaign against the Bretton Woods Institutions and the ideology standing behind them. However, the Tribunal starting today will attract many people and provide a good opportunity for networking. Some groups have already taken initiative. The "Worldwide Campaign" from Belgium wants to launch a global campaign "World Bank, IMF: Enough!". A pamphlet accompagnying the campaign is available in several languages here at the Forum and has already signed by a number of mostly francophone organisations and individuals. You can also request further information from their office: "Worldwide Campaign: World Bank, IMF: Enough!" 29 rue Plantin, 1070 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: 32-2-5234023, Fax: 32-2-5226127. Another good issue for a united campaign strategy is that the World Bank is starting the negotiations for IDA 11 which will continue until next year. This is a very good possibility to use the contacts and the results of this Forum to campaign in your countries. Pressure your government to hold back their IDA contribution or to cut it off! "Urgewald" in Germany is planning a legislation workshop with European NGOs. Please contact: Urgewald/Heffa Sch�cking, von Galenstr. 2, 48336 Sassenberg, Germany. Tel/Fax: 49-2583 1031. Watch out for other campaign ideas. There are international groups and networks working on related issues such as next year's UN Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen in March (?) 1995, the first follow-up conference on the Climate Convention in Berlin in April 1995, and the UN conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995. Additionally, Boutros Ghali has just called for an International Conference on Money and Finance for Development, the first since Bretton Woods, to be held in 1996. The UN General Assembly has not yet made a decision on this. BRETTON WOODS INSTITUTIONS BECOME MASTER OF ADMINISTRATING IGNORANCE The World Bank and IMF continue their mutual back-slapping festival without letting any criticism irritate them, although activists campaigning for years to reveal the facts about the institutions' poor performance have recently been joined by influential voices from the UN system itself. This includes UN Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali warning in a leaked draft (Sept. 1994) of his new Agenda for Development that, "The Present ambiguity and lack of coordination can hardly continue for the next 50 years except to the detriment of the cause of development." The head of the UN system suggests the creation of a high-level Executive Committee of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to decide on development and other policy issues for all sections of the UN system, including the World Bank and IMF. A comment from Bank president Preston on this appearant power struggle was not available. However, Boutros Ghali's proposal to also turn over more than 2,000 trust funds currently managed by the Bank to the UN will certainly not appeal to the architects of the Bank's own agenda. The Bank can ignore or play down criticism by respected sources such as the UNDP (see yesterday's ECO) as it is in a situation of comfortable wealth, administered by a hierarchical structure protecting it from democracy and other complicating obstacles. Over the past years, just like any transnational corporation, the WB mainly looked after its own financial gain and successfully overtook newly created funds, while at the same time imposing its undemocratic power structures on a whole range of originally well intended programmes to struggle against global problems. Boutros Ghali's call to cut the Bank's finances and to confront it with a powerful external body will lead to a controversial discussion between the factions that want a world affairs managed by the BWI plus the WTO, and those that propagate global governance on the bases of a reformed UN with an enlarged security council at its centre. In this regard, Ghali's call for an International Conference on Money and Finance for Development, the first since Bretton Woods 1944, to be held in 1996, sounds like offering a show down. However, as anti-Bank activists might be happy about this high level anti-Bank initiative, the perspective of building up another ruling structure with just as much distance to the people is certain to provoke further grassroots protests in the future. SUCCESSFUL CITY EXCURSION "The winners of the Revolution will be the folks with the best party," one activist saying goes - and street theatre aims to send our message with a "party". Friday evening, several costumed "WB/ IMF Vultures" and a flock of supporting activists informed Madrid of the banks� nature through leafleting, conversations, a banner, and short plays. The Vultures "attacked" and "ate" our athletic-but-not-authentic "dancing peasant" repeatedly, never losing their appetite. (Just like the real bankers!) Laughing, chanting, singing, juggling in the metro and the streets - this action made protest as fun for onlookers as for the activists. We invited citizens to Sunday�s action and drew attention to ourselves until we got too much attention from the police; that is, rather soon. This spirit of fun worked well - and it should also work today and Sunday. Dear ECO, I saw your ad for a Torero with experience fighting multi-lateral lending institutions. I am brave, but I must tell you, so much bull is hard to take!! THERE'S A CLIMATE FOR ACTION - CLIMATE ACTION DAYS Two seminars at the Forum dealt with the struggle against projects initiated by the World Bank and similar institutions threathening the global climate. The first seminar focused on the unsustainable energy policy of the World Bank. An example is the construction of large coal-fired power plants in India which will lead to additional CO2 emissions of up to 4% before 2003. Paul Nicholson of the Basque farmers union explained how the development model for agriculture promoted both in the South and the North by the Bretton Woods Institutions causes desertification and the destruction of small-scale, sustainable agriculture. This development model is seriously worsening the greenhouse effect. To protest against this destructive model and to promote alternatives, global Climate Action Days took place in 70 countries in 1993 and 1994. The first large meeting of groups participating in the Action Days took place at the Forum. About 50 people met to discuss future global campaigning on climate issues, including participation from the South. The Climate Action Days campaign in 1995 will be strengthened through the new activities focusing on the UN Climate Summit in Berlin, in April 1995. The four European environmental youth networks (A SEED Europe, EYFA, YEE and YDC) have joined together in a campaign to make governments commit themselves to large reductions in CO2 emissions. The Climate Action Day on 15th of May 1995 is an opportunity to continue the struggle against World Bank projects and other policies which through construction of roads, deforestation and unsustainable energy plans, contribute to the greenhouse effect. If you want to participate, please contact Climate Action Days or The Climate is Right for a Change at the following addresses: Climate Action Days Miljoforbundet Box 7048, 40231 Goteborg, Sweden Phone: 46-31-121808, fax: 121817 Climate is Right for a Change A SEED Europe Office P.O. Box 92066, 1090 AB Amsterdam, Netherlands Phone: 31-20+6682236, fax: 6650166 AFRICAN INCOMES FALL BUT HOPE LIES IN COMMODITY PRICES, SAYS IMF African real incomes fell 8% over the last four years but a sharp upswing in commodity prices provides some hope for the continent, says the International Monetary Fund, in their annual World Economic Outlook, published Wednesday. The 153 page report, which is traditionally released six days before the World Bank and IMF annual meeting, says that world growth will increase by 3.1% while growth for developing countries will average 5.6%. Of all developing countries, Asia is predicted to show the strongest growth. The IMF report says that Asian countries' economic output will grow by 7.3% next year, down from their prediction of 8% from this year. Latin American economies are expected to grow by 3.3% next year, up from their prediction of 2.8% from this year. Although growth figures for Africa as a whole will be 4.5% higher than the last year, ''economic conditions in most of sub-Saharan Africa remain unsatisfactory (because) growth did not keep pace with population,'' says the report. Micheal Mussa, director of studies at the IMF, says that the main hope for Africa lies in a sharp increase in demand for commodities particularly in European countries. This has caused the IMF to up the growth figures for Africa from 3.3% last year to 4.5% this year. But even with this boost, the real Gross Domestic Product for Africa, will only be up by 0.1% by the end of the century, according to the IMF's best scenario. Under the worst case scenario, African real GDP will fall by 0.7%. ''This news is scandalous, although not unexpected, given that the IMF, together with the World Bank, has been the major force in designing African economic policy,'' says Doug Hellinger, of The Development GAP, a Washington based non-governmental organisation. These numbers also fail to show a number of other problems, say activists. ''The figures are not broad-based and do not reflect the exacerbation of the differences between rich and poor,'' said Hellinger. A report released in March by the United Nations Economic Commission on Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) says that although growth has helped alleviate poverty in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, the number of poor ''remain uncomfortably high.'' ESCAP figures show that there are some 465 million poor people in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. ''The incidence of poverty declined in Thailand between 1976 and 1988. That, however, did not bring about a marked reduction in the absolute number of poor,'' says the report. Likewise in Ghana, the GNP per capita rose by a quarter from 370 dollars between 1980 and 1985, to 450 dollars between 1987 and 1992. But the CPI value rose from 57 dollars to 293 dollars, multiplying almost six times, over the same time period. ''The IMF's forecast is bad news for the poorest people and especially Africa,'' Jessica Woodroffe, a policy advisor with Christian Aid, a charity organisation. Pratap Chatterjee DEMO We Don't Want Them Here! Organised by the campaign 50 Years Are Enough! To protest against the external debt, misery and racism. Start at 11:30 from Cibeles and march to Plaza Mayor. Fiesta! Fiesta! Fiesta! Starting tonight at 8 pm in a well known place with one toilet. Live music performed by four local bands, cover charge 400 pts. Fiesta from 10 pm. Demos next week: Sunday, October 2 at 6 pm Public debate with representatives of IMF and World Bank Location: UGT (trade union), Avenida America 25 Monday, October 3rd Public Debate between NGOs and Mohamed El-Ashry on the "Restructuring of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF)" Location: Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Metro San Bernardo, 10:30 Monday, 3rd, 20:30 Concert "The Other Instruments of the Planet" Bring some along. It will be parallel to official one inside. Location: Auditorio Nacional, Principe de Vergara 136, Metro Cruz del Rayo Tuesday, October 4th Aedenat has organised an event titled "A Penny for Poor Bankers" Meeting point: Metro "Sol", 12.00 Wednesday 5th, 11:30 Demonstration against the social cuttings the IMF suggested to the Spanish government Location: Puerta del Retiro de Alcala Wednesday, October 5th Demonstration and handover of a communique declaring the World Bank officials "persona non grata". Meeting point: Metro "Sol", 19:30 ..