Socialist Worker

10 reasons to protest against IMF

Issue No. 1713

10 reasons to protest against IMF

1. THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) squeezes billions from the poor. The IMF, along with the World Bank, was set up in 1944 to oversee the global economy in the interests of the richest countries, particularly the United States.

In the last two decades it has squeezed billions of pounds from the poorest countries in debt repayments. Between 1980 and 1992 the poorest countries paid three times more to the IMF and World Bank than their original debt.

2. The debt burden of the poorest countries kills 19,000 children every day. The poor countries of sub-Saharan Africa owe more than �300 billion in debt-three times more than they earn annually through exports.

In Ethiopia debt repayments are four times greater than spending on health. In Tanzania, where 40 percent of people die before the age of 35, debt repayments are six times more than health spending. The IMF alone has transferred over �3 billion out of Africa since the mid-1980s.

3. IMF STRUCTURAL Adjustment Programmes slash public spending. No poor country can get a loan from the IMF and World Bank unless it agrees to a Structural Adjustment Programme.

These open up the economy to the multinationals, privatise state-owned companies, slash workers' rights, wages and conditions, and impose severe cuts on vital public spending. Failure to implement these policies means that the IMF cancels the loan.

4. The return of killer diseases and millions of children denied an education. IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes have led to a rise in infant mortality. Public hospitals and clinics in sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Latin America and Asia, have become breeding grounds for diseases like cholera, hepatitis and typhoid, which have made a comeback.

In Zimbabwe health spending has fallen by a third. IMF-imposed health cuts have ensured that AIDS and HIV infection has ravaged much of Africa.

5. The IMF opens up the world to exploitation by huge multinational firms. Structural Adjustment Programmes outlaw subsidies and price controls on staple goods. This opens up sectors to foreign firms and drives local producers to the wall.

After an IMF "shock treatment" in Peru in 1991 the price of petrol increased 3,000 percent overnight, and bread by 1,100 percent. IMF "adjustment" means forcing poor countries to adjust to the interests of the multinationals.

6. WORKERS SUFFER wage cuts, longer hours and greater exploitation. The IMF demands that labour markets should be deregulated and "flexible". This means destroying job security, cutting restrictions on working hours, making it easier for bosses to sack people, smashing trade unions and ignoring safety regulations.

Real wages in nearly every African country have fallen between 50 and 60 percent since the imposition of IMF programmes.

7. IMF POLICIES wreak havoc on the environment. IMF programmes are behind the drive for deforestation in indebted countries. Governments in these countries generate fast cash to pay the interest on debt by deforesting large areas.

This can have devastating effects. Thousands of the deaths during Hurricane Mitch in 1998 were directly due to mud slides on deforested areas. The IMF forces farmers to produce a single crop for export as quickly as possible. This increases the likelihood of pests and viruses which cause crop failure.

8. IMF POLICIES have made economic crisis worse. The IMF justifies its policies by saying that they will lead to economic growth. But this is a con. A survey of 76 countries implementing IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes found that only four had consistently improved their economic performance.

After the 1997 Asian crisis the IMF's medicine for recovery for Indonesia increased the pain for millions. An extra 40 million people have fallen below the poverty line.

9. THE IMF is undemocratic and unaccountable. The IMF represents countries according to the size of their economies and not the needs of their people. The US, with only about 5 percent of the world's population, has 17 percent of the votes in the IMF.

Between them the G7 largest industrial countries have 45 percent of the votes. That is enough to force through the free market policies they want to suit the interests of giant multinationals.

10. THE Rich and powerful pull the strings. Today the five biggest multinationals, run by around 40 people, have a bigger output than the Middle East and Africa combined. These few individuals make decisions about what is produced, who has jobs, and who lives and dies in poverty.

Multinationals pour huge resources into ensuring that they decisively influence decisions in the IMF. They organise bodies like the World Water Council, which campaigns for privatisation around the world.

Globalisation and resistance

S24 counter-conference in Brighton

Plus demonstration to Labour's conference

Sunday 24 September, 10.30am, Hove Town Hall Tickets �10 waged, �5 unwaged

For more information and to book your ticket phone Brighton 2000 Committee on 020 8981 9241

Demonstrate against the IMF in Prague Tuesday 26 September E-mail

Protest in Britain on 26 September

Protests will take place in


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Sat 9 Sep 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1713
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