Norway “seeks the truth” on Bank conditionality
The Norwegian government, whose aid money cannot be spent on programs that require trade liberalization and privatization, hosted an inter-governmental meeting in November to assess the extent to which the World Bank and IMF still require developing countries to pursue privatization and liberalization as a condition of support. An independent study commissioned for the meeting, determined that while the World Bank and IMF are still pushing privatization and trade liberalization in their development policy lending, it is less pervasive than in the past. It also concluded that governance conditions are increasingly taking the place of economic policy prescriptions, and that developing government “ownership” over Bank and Fund policies is still weak.
International Monetary Fund
Norway “seeks the truth” on Bank conditionality
28-29 November, Oslo
Norway cancels illegitimate debt
On October 2, in an unprecedented move, Norway's International Development Minister, Erik Solheim, announced that the Norwegian government would unilaterally and unconditionally cancel US$80 million (NOK520 million) of illegitimate bilateral debt held by Ecuador, Egypt, Jamaica, Peru and Sierra Leone. Acknowledging that these debts stemmed from a “development policy failure”, Oslo also accepted that as a creditor country it had a shared responsibility for the debts. Furthermore, the cancellation will not form part of Norway’s Overseas Development Assistance, meaning that it will be additional to current aid spending.
Fallout at Bank and Fund meetings in Singapore
The Work Bank and International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) fall meeting in Singapore from September 19-20, were mired in controversy this year. In the days prior to the meeting, it became clear that Singapore intended to ban numerous accredited organizations from entering the country. In response, groups unilaterally boycotted the official program. Organizers of the parallel International Peoples Forum in Batam, Indonesia, reported that 54 individuals from 17 groups were detained at the Singapore airport without explanation, and subjected to custodial interrogation and deportation. Many groups felt that, with IMF reform and good governance and corruption on the agenda, the choice of Singapore as the venue for the meetings underscored the superficial nature of the Bank and Fund reform agenda.
Singapore Meetings Emphasize “Civil” over “Society”
On September 19th and 20th, the World’s Finance Ministers will gather in Singapore for the traditional fall meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Although the Bank and IMF will host their own Civil Society Forum, Singapore has banned the traditional outdoor protests that accompany the meetings – providing a designated protest lobby area instead. They have also been tightening border controls and stepping up border security.
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Adopted
On June 29, the Human Rights Council – the new United Nations Human Rights Commission – finally adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, twenty-two years after it was first drafted by the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples.
Mind the (Growing) Gap – Debt, Aid, and Trade
Is Wolfowitz Gathering his Forces?
On June 16, 2006, former Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio was appointed Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel. Ms. Palacio’s appointment is perhaps not surprising given her support for the US-led invasion of Iraq. Her role under Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s government in fact was essential to establishing good ties with the US. But at the same time, her appointment is controversial because she continues a legacy of appointments made by President Paul Wolfowitz of a few close, like-minded allies that are forming an inner cabinet, and ostracizing other long-time and upper-level staff members from Bank decision-making (See Issue Update Vol 2, No. 1, 2006). The appointment has sparked public debate on how senior management posts are filled.
PDF of Full Report available here
Nous regrettons qu'en 2006, l'initiative d'Halifax n'a pas produit de version Francaise.
Report Card on the Canadian Department of Finance “2005 Report on Operations Under Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act”
Every year at the end of March, the Department of Finance tables its report on the operations of the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWI)  before Parliament and details activities at these institutions in relation to Canadian priorities, commitments and interests. The reports provide some good background information on the institutions themselves, on emerging issues and challenges within the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and some brief details on Canadian priorities and financial participation at these institutions.