Thursday, March 17, 2005

World Bank

The World Bank vs. the World’s Poor by James Bovard

According to James Bovard, the World Bank is helping Third World governments
1. cripple their economies,
2. maul their environments,
3. and oppress their people.

Bovard complains that the bank is responsible for
1. governments having too much control over people and businesses
2. the economic collapse of Africa.

The bank has a long record of supporting human rights violations.

An example: the bank lent Indonesia over $600 million to help with transmigration. Several million people were moved from Java to comparatively barren islands. There were widespread reports of violence. Australian critic Kenneth Davidson called transmigration “the Javanese version of Nazi Germany’s lebensraum.” (Melbourne Age,. June 1, 1986)

The bank’s 1987 annual review noted:
1. 75 per cent of its African agricultural projects have failed.
2. Projects in Latin American and Africa routinely collapse because governments don’t repair roads and infrastructure

In Africa, per capita food production has fallen almost 20 per cent since 1960.

A 1981 Bank analysis of Africa concluded that “Much of ‘the investment in agriculture, especially the domestic component, has gone into state farms, big irrigation schemes and similar capital-intensive activities. These have turned out to be largely a waste of money; their impact on output has been negligible in most cases.”

In Africa, World Bank aid has helped set up many new public enterprises. A 1986 bank report concluded, these enterprises “present a depressing picture of inefficiency, losses, budgetary burdens, poor products and services, and minimal accomplishment of the noncommercial objectives so frequently used to excuse their poor economic performance.”

A 1987 bank study: “Another prevalent weakness in African trade regimes is the granting of import duty exempts to government enterprises and foreign aid financed projects. This practice subjects private enterprises to unfair competition and retards the development of domestic industries capable of making the same products, especially when such exemptions coincide with currency over-valuations and heavy domestic tax burdens on local producers.”

Alan R. Walters, former chief economist for the Agency for International Development: “Foreign aid . . . gives enormous resources and control apparatus to the local administrative elite and thus sustains the authoritarian attitudes corrosive to the development process.”

At the same time Western aid to Third World countries has increased, the United States and Europe have raised new barriers against Third World imports.

According to Bovard, "it would be more beneficial, and far more effective at encouraging healthful Third World economic policies, if we simply stopped giving handouts and simultaneously abolished trade barriers against Third World imports."

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