Friday, February 29, 2008

Zambia and IMF relations

Zambia and IMF relations
By Gabriel Banda
Friday February 29, 2008 [03:00]

THIS week, some International Monetary Fund (IMF) directors have been around Zambia. They praised Zambia's implementation of economic policies. On their score sheet, Zambia is a leader, doing well, and an example in Africa. As it praised the country’s economic performance, the team pointed out areas needing attention and action. The IMF team has been fetted by Zambia's institutions and officials. Sadly, some officials even made hints about more assistance from IMF.

Our hope is that the IMF team and Zambia's officials also frankly discussed how the IMF’s economic policies and programmes have contributed to the current country’s situation.

Under imposed programmes of the IMF and its twin, the World Bank, many people in Zambia and other parts of the world have greatly suffered. Given past policies and programmes, we should be asking whether Zambia should continue relations with the IMF and World Bank.

What should be the nature of the relationship with the IMF and World Bank? We need to consider past, current, and future programmes. Through tactics of deception, failed or destructive past programmes have had names changed but essentially remained the same in intention, design, and action. The destructive seeds of the past are still in our current arrangements.

Some negative seeds, old and new, are still in the grain bank, waiting to be planted and nourished. The IMF and World Bank are currently ‘unrepentant’ central bankers, to use a term used by Condoleezza Rice about terrorism, of destructive economic policies and practices.

The IMF and World Bank policies continue to result in many deaths and poverty. Through nourishing crime, corruption, and poverty, they threaten the harmony and integrity of social relations and societies.

They have reduced the capacity of nations to advance in various fields-from education and health to the general administration of organisations.

We have argued that there should be no further funding from the IMF and World Bank. It leads to further debt and harsh conditions.

The IMF and World Bank should in fact be involved in supporting the rehabilitation and healing arising from the results of their imposed policies and programmes.

There should be no further loans to pay under IMF and World Bank dictatorship as this will lead to worsening of conditions. The relationship with IMF and World Bank should be focused on compensation and reparations to deal with the negative impact of the IMF and World Bank policies and advice.

The IMF and World Bank will continue trying to influence and puppeteer economies through persons and agents they nourish in various institutions of society. Governments also fear to defy the IMF and World Bank and be independent because of potential economic sanctions that will lead to stress in societies and even the removal of governments.

Many NGOs and civil society members are now silent on the IMF and World Bank injustice because their jobs and incomes are, directly or indirectly, sustained by funds from the couple.
In May 1987, because of their policies’ openly harsh impact, Zambia's government made efforts to break from the IMF programmes.

Sanctions were imposed and, without support from other governments undergoing similar harsh programmes, Zambia went back to IMF. This led to further poverty and decline in national capacity in various fields.

IMF forced user fees and removal of public support for education, health, and other basics. This led to a decline in the quality and access to education and health services and people's . Many boys, girls, and their families have not recovered from these measures.

At the same time was put into place a poor marketing system for farming and rural produce, thereby affecting incomes and economies in rural areas.

Infrastructure in rural and urban areas became poor, unmaintained, and not expanded. In urban areas, poverty increased while services declined. Many persons have died at the hands of the policies of the IMF and World Bank machinery. Social cohesion and integration, vital bases for advancement, have been threatened.

The HIV and AIDS situation is not helped by policies of the IMF and World Bank machinery. It is difficult to attain the Millennium Development Goals with negative IMF and World Bank programmes in place.

Zambia is now struggling with the issue of royalties and taxes from mining. Some IMF team members have now expressed support towards the call for the mines to pay more royalties and taxes. But the IMF and World Bank machinery, which designed and forced the privatisation of the mines, bears responsibility for the poor and unfavourable mine agreements.

From the beginning, it was self evident that the conditions of sale were unfair. Through incompetence, error or scheming, the mine agreements made Zambia lose out on many things, including public incomes which would have been used to strengthen many sectors.

How much has been foregone? The IMF and World Bank must be made to compensate for the loss from mines.
They must compensate for the decline of education, health, and various sectors. There should be compensation, not new loans.

Those in IMF supporting a new tax regime should concentrate on working within the IMF and World Bank to make compensation for the harm of imposed destructive policies.

In Australia, Rudd's government has apologised for the Stolen Generation, the injustice against Australia's Aborigines. The IMF still does not officially apologise. They have functioned like Shakespeare's Shylock, who demands a pound of flesh which actually comes together with blood, that sustaining current of biological life.

Recently, considering the destructive policies, Latin America has shown the IMF the door out. They have cleared their debt and the IMF told to leave. It is not too late for Zambia, Africa, and other governments.

They can still assert their strength, justice, and autonomy for the common good. In late 2002, Zambia showed autonomy and strength by refusing to accept a genetically modified grain donation. It is possible to act for the benefit of current and future generations.

There are definite alternatives to the IMF and World Bank machinery. Is it not time to disengage? In future, it should not be said that there are heavy yokes on necks and burdens because of the collaboration of current administrations with the IMF and World Bank.



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