On May 29, Bill C-293 or the “better aid bill”, received royal assent. This now legally requires Canadian official development assistance (ODA) to contribute to poverty reduction, take into account the perspectives of the poor, and be consistent with international human rights standards. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC), among others, are in the process of developing plans on how to implement the Bill in practice. These comments are intended to help CIDA and FAC in their interpretation of the Bill for the various international financial institutions for which they are the lead agencies.
16 MAY 2008
Canadian Government Reports on IFI Activity Get Good Grade
The Canadian government’s annual reporting on its activities at international financial institutions is getting better, according to the authors, and to a Canadian civil society group which recently gave the latest report its best grade ever.
The Halifax Initiative said the report on 2007 activities merited a B+, up from last year’s rating of B-, and way up from the D grades of 2001-2005.
In 2000, the Halifax Initiative Coalition organized a conference on Transforming the Global Financial System. At that time, the prospect of alternative institutions and mechanisms to the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs), for funding international development, were very much a matter of theoretical debate.
Now, just seven years later, the landscape has changed dramatically. There are now new players in the field in the form of alternative institutions, such as the Bank of the South and the Chiang Mai initiative. There are alternative sources of development funding, for example through new bi-lateral donors from China, Brazil and India, or from private sources, such as the Bill Gates Foundation. There are alternative mechanisms for financing development and regulating financial flows, such as airline levies, advance market commitments and currency transaction taxes.
The changing face of global development finance
In 2007 Brazil’s Development Bank issued loans worth more than double the entire World Bank portfolio. More than half of the increase in aid since 2002 comes from debt relief, rather than new funding commitments. What’s more, from 1995-2005, Africa saw no net increase in its development aid despite a 35% increase in commitments to global aid over that period. In 2007, China financed more infrastructure projects in Africa than all multilateral and bilateral donors combined. The Gates Foundation provides more funding for neglected developing country diseases than all of the Group of Seven. These were some of the facts that emerged at an HI conference on “The Changing Face of Global Development Finance - Impacts and implications for aid, development, the South and the Bretton Woods Institutions.”
On the second day of the February 2008 conference on the "Changing Face of Global Development Finance", we heard from the following:
- Charles Mutasa, AFRODAD providing an overview of aid effectiveness and its challenges;
- Lydia Duran, Association for Women's Rights in Development providing insight on the gender blind nature of the Paris Declaration and discussions around aid effectiveness;
- Rasheed Draman, Parliamentary Centre on how national Parliament's continue to be ostracized from the aid debate;
- Roy Culpeper, North-South Institute, on financing development and the role of domestic resource mobilization;
Increased donor funding boosts Bank, ignores bad policies
A record US$25.1 billion was pledged by donors to the World Bank’s low-interest loan and grant facility, the International Development Association (IDA), as discussions on IDA’s 15th replenishment drew to a close in Berlin. With $16.5 billion pledged by the Bank itself, the full replenishment stands at $41.6 billion, up 30 per cent from the $31 billion in the previous round. The latest replenishment covers July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2011.
The face of Global Development Finance is changing. The international financial system has entered into a remarkable period of transition, relative to a few years ago. Numerous countries have repaid their debts to the IMF ahead of schedule, leaving the Fund with a US$103 million shortfall in fiscal year 2007. Many of these same countries have indicated that they will not return to the IMF because of the burdensome conditions that it imposes on debtors.
In its place, new institutions and new sources of finance are emerging. Increasingly, Southern governments are seeking real alternatives to the Bank and Fund: a Bank of the South is emerging in Latin America, an $80 billion Monetary Fund has been created in Asia, and both China and India are providing Africa with condition-free financing that far surpasses current Bank allocations. But these new alternatives are not without their own challenges.
What: The Changing Face of Global Development Finance – Impacts and implications for aid, development, the South and the Bretton Woods Institutions
Who: Organized by the Halifax Initiative Coalition; co-hosted by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, The North-South Institute and the Reality of Aid Network.
When: February 1 - 2, 2008.
Where: Rideau Room, Sheraton Ottawa Hotel, 150 Albert Street (between Metcalfe and O'Connor), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Why: The conference will look at some of the emerging alternatives, as well as the opportunities and challenges they present, with respect to the current international financial system and its institutions.
Conference fees: $40 per day for non-Halifax Initiative members; $35 per day for HI members
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World Bank’s long term strategy – business as usual?
100 days into his term, World Bank President Bob Zoellick has outlined his vision for an inclusive and sustainable globalization that seeks to “overcome poverty [and] enhance growth with care for the environment”. Importantly, it also seeks to better integrate the activities of the World Bank Group (WBG) and build a more financially robust and flexible institution. And it occurs at a time when the Bank is desperate to recapture new borrowers and build new markets in an environment that has a wealth of new sources of development finance.
Selecting a New IMF Director: Another One-Man Race?
Following the recent, controversial appointment of World Bank President Robert Zoellick - who was hand-picked by the US, despite calls for a more democratic selection process - all eyes are on the International Monetary Fund as it prepares to select a new Managing Director in September. At this early stage, US and EU support for the candidacy of former French Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn reveals their intent to preserve a selection process that all but guarantees the appointment of a European to the top post.