10 Reasons to Oppose the G20, World Bank and IMF Meetings

Submitted by Global Democracy Ottawa.

The G20, World Bank and IMF will be meeting in Ottawa the week of November 15, 2001. Why is there such opposition to them?

They are elitist and unrepresentative.
The G20, World Bank and IMF are elitist groups which work with a select group of central bankers and finance ministers. There is no input from other sectors of global society. Their meetings are shrouded in secrecy and those people most affected are kept in the dark about the decisions made by these bodies.
They benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
Voting power in the IMF and Wold Bank is based on a one dollar one vote system. As a result, the seven richest countries hold almost 50% of the voting power. This inevitably results in decisions which are beneficial to wealthy countries at the expense of the poor. An example of this are the conditions attached to loans to poor countries called "structural adjustment programs" (SAPs). These require debtors to open their economies to foreign investment, privatization, decreased social spending and a focus on cash exports.
They increase misery and malnutrition in developing nations.
The policies of the World Bank and IMF result in increased malnutrition by forcing countries to shift to export based economies. 80% of malnourished children live in countries where IMF/WB policies require farmers to shift from food production for local consumption to production of cash crops for export.
They promote environmental destruction.
The requirement that countries move to export based economies has resulted in environmental devastation. Cuts to government spending required by the IMF means that many countries no longer have resources for enforcement of existing environmental protection regulations. Mining and manufacturing result in pollution on a massive scale. Clear cutting of forests results in soil erosion, pollution of watersheds, extinction of rare species, and destruction of traditional ways of life.
They promote erosion of labour standards.
The structural adjustment programs (SAPs) imposed by the IMF often require changes in labour laws eliminating collective bargaining rights and lowering wages ("labour flexibility"). In addition, policies of government cutbacks and elimination of protections for domestic companies result in massive layoffs.
They promote corporate welfare.
To increase exports, countries are encouraged by the IMF to give tax breaks and subsidies to export industries. Assets such as forest land and utilities are sold off to multinationals at bargain prices. For example, in Guyana a multinational timber corporation received a logging concession 1.5 times to total land set aside for indigenous people in that country. The corporation also received a five-year tax holiday. These policies benefit multinational corporations but hurt the countries they supposedly "help."
Their policies erode civil society.
The structural adjustment policies imposed by the IMF require cuts to social spending or imposition of user fees. The results are devastating and cause thousands of needless deaths due to health care cutbacks. Cuts to education result in many young people leaving school because they are unable to afford it, thus propagating the cycle of poverty.
The IMF forces countries to pay off debts incurred by oppressive dictators.
Much of the debt in question was contracted by undemocratic governments with little intention of using funds for responsible development. The money borrowed was often stolen by corrupt politicians in full knowledge of IMF officials. In other cases, the money was used to build up an oppressive police state apparatus used to suppress democratic movements (e.g. the apartheid regime in South Africa). It's outrageous that the people of these countries must service a debt incurred to oppress them while the IMF has no accountability for its lending practices.
IMF/WB/G20 policies hurt women and children the most.
Women and children bear the brunt of these policies. Increased education costs disproportionately affect girls who are more likely to be withdrawn from school than boys. The social dislocation caused by the shift to an export manufacturing economy often causes an increase in child labour
Their policies are racist.
The policies promoted by the World Bank and IMF have a human toll that would be unacceptable in industrialized countries. On a global scale most of those harmed by IMF and World Bank policies are people of colour.
For more information on activities from November 15 through 19, watch GDO's website http://www.flora.org/gdo/ or call +1 613 237 0730 or email info_N17@flora.org