The debt campaigners and activists from South Asia including participants from Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and India that have assembled at Katmandu for the “2nd South Asian workshop on International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and the Debt Crisis” have called for region wide resistance movements against anti-people policies of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) . This conference has been jointly organized by SAAPE, VAK and NGO Federation of Nepal. Around 50 participants from various organizations across different countries of the region have taken part in this workshop.
This two day workshop from 14-15 January, 2009 also witnessed the presence of leading International Debt Campaigners from Belgium and Philippines, Dr. Eric Toussaint, President of CADTM (Committee for the Abolition of third world debt) and Ms. Lidy Nacpil, from Jubilee -South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD).
Presentations from Dr. Dilli Raj Khanal, ex-member of the National Planning Commission of Nepal, on the Nepalese macro-economic situation and the overall economic crisis and Dr. Eric Toussaint on the overall global capitalist crisis were the highlights of the first day. The second day was marked by a presentation by Prof. Ram Bapat on the questions of democracy and governance and also discussions on the concepts of illegitimate and odious debt led by Lidy Nacpil. The proceedings were interspersed with presentations of the country situations in South Asia. The participants also discussed and finalized a future course of actions.
The major themes highlighted in the conference were the attempts by the Asian Development Bank to privatize the Kathmandu drinking water supply system and the imposition of stringent conditionalities for providing aid. The participants observed that the privatization of state owned enterprises under neo-liberal agenda minimizes the state’s sovereignty and welfare role and strengthen the repressive mechanisms which serve the interests of the multinational companies at the cost of the people.
Various other presentations from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India demystified and condemned the roles of IFIs in increasing the burden of debt, privatizing basic services and thus making it out of control of the working poor, clear violations of Human Rights and environmental concerns, etc. It was observed that all this was done in the name of development and progress.
It was observed with sadness that no governments in South Asia dared to confront the hegemonies of the IFIs in spite of tremendous mass mobilizations and demands from below. In order to strengthen South-South co-operation the assembly gave a call for the "Bank of the South".
The future course of action decided to take the issue forward in terms of mass awareness campaigns and mobilizations to force the South Asian governments in the various countries of the region to resist the anti-people policies imposed by the IFIs, to say “no” to the conditionalities imposed by the IFIs and also to get the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) out of the region.
Dr. Netra Timsina