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People’s Summit on BRICS from 18th to 22nd October, 2021

Register here to participate in the online summit: 

tinyurl.com/peoplesbrics-2021-register 

As the 13th BRICS Summit was recently held and chaired by India, the People’s Forum on BRICS (a network of people’s movements, progressive civil society organizations, and trade unions) is convening a 5-day online People’s Summit on BRICS from 18th to 22nd October, 2021.

The People’s forum on BRICS in response to the official summit which failed in living upto the principles of people’s issues and their participation, will create a space where a network of people’s movements, progressive civil society organizations, and trade unions from across the BRICS nations to discuss, analyze, question, and seek alternatives to the agendas that are being undemocratically pushed in our countries and to discuss and challenge the positions that BRICS grouping is placing at international forum. The Forum is being held in India for the second time, the first being in 2016 in Goa, when the official Summit was held in Goa. But due to COVID, the forum has been moved online.

The People’s Forum will attempt to raise critical voices from marginalised sections on social, ecological, political and economic concerns that are often ignored at inter-governmental processes such as BRICS. The focus is to build solidarities across borders among social movements, progressive civil society organizations and to advance an alternative model of development that puts people before profit.

The BRICS bloc, initially envisioned as an association of emerging economies to challenge the economic & financial clout of developed western economies, of the dollar supremacy, and developmental suzerainty of the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO, has over time done very little to disrupt the status quo. The nations in the bloc are characterized by complex socio-political realities, supremacist ideologies, ethno-nationalist compulsions, divergent economic and political trajectories, profound inequalities, in the wider background of the climate crisis. These diversities have stymied rather than strengthened the resolve of BRICS’ mandate of transforming global economic governance based on principles of equitability by being more receptive to the interests of developing nations. In other words, it is seemingly mirroring the very global actors it had purportedly stood up to challenge.

Through the 5 days there will be discussions on seven broad thematic areas in the context of BRICS nations including Pandemic and Disaster Resilience; Geo-economics & Economic Partnership; Geo-politics, Gender, Energy, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Labour Rights and Social Justice.

The Inaugural Plenary will take place on 18th October, 2021 and the thematic sessions will take place on 19th, 20th, 21st October, 2021 and the forum will draw to a close with the Closing Plenary happening on 22nd October, 2021. The schedule for all the sessions with joining and registration details can be found on the official website (https://peoplesbrics.wordpress.com/). The events are open for all the members of the public. Those interested can register on this link for all the sessions (tinyurl.com/peoplesbrics-2021-register) and can register for individual sessions on the website.

Link to the Program Schedule:

Peoples’ Forum on BRICS

Website: https://peoplesbrics.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peoplesbrics/?ref=bookmarks

Twitter: @PeoplesBrics

People’s Forum on BRICS: Call for participation & registration of panels

18th -22nd October, 2021; India

Register for organising panels  on various thematic areas by 24th of September, 2021. 

The People’s BRICS Forum 2021 is being convened  to articulate people’s agenda and learn from each other. As the People’s BRICS  will be organised online, we encourage various progressive civil society organisations people’s movements and, trade unions across BRICS nations to come onboard to organize panels under the following overarching thematic areas –

  • BRICS, Pandemic, and Disaster Resilience  ( health policy, vaccine policy, Intellectual property rights- vaccine & treatment, employment, disaster resilience)
  • BRICS Geo-economics &  Economic Partnerships (Upcoming WTO negotiations, SDR and Debt issues, Global Value chains, Finance and Banking , Trade, Taxation, International Financial Institutions)
  • Geo-politics and BRICS (Cooperation among nations, debating the BRICS geopolitical system, maritime infrastructure, coastal governance)
  • BRICS, Energy, Climate change and Natural Resources (Climate change, just transitions, questions of energy, renewables, fossil fuels, energy poverty, climate change finance, biodiversity finance, natural asset valuation)
  • BRICS and Gender (women and economic empowerment, access to productive resources, women and IFIs, sustainable work and decent livelihoods, discrimination and violence)
  • BRICS and Labour Rights (future of work, question of labor value, informality and precarity, social security, pension fund, fair wages, migration, basic income debate, employment)
  • BRICS and Social Justice (race, class, caste, sexual minorities, disability and other vulnerable groups)

Please submit  your proposal  or expression of interest to hold panels under the aegis/banner of People’s BRICS Forum 2021 either individually or as a collective of organisations. 

  • Consider hosting and co-hosting a panel on the themes mentioned above. Please fill out the form for organising panels(link above) to collaborate on organising sessions by 24th of September, 2021. 
  • Write for us at peoplesforumonbrics@gmail.com – In the spirit of having a diverse set of progressive voices, we welcome you or a group from your organisation to write position papers, issue papers, briefing notes, literature reviews, background papers and blog for us. This could be done individually or collectively. The submissions can be made in any language. 

Important dates:

Announcement for People’s BRICS Forum10th September, 2021
Call for Participation and Registration of Panels Open 14th September, 2021
Deadline for Panel Proposals 24th September, 2021
Finalisation of proposals 27th-30th September, 2021
Announcement  of programme 3rd October, 2021

BRICS Summit: People’s Forum calls it “lost opportunity” 

Civil Society Groups to hold People’s Forum on BRICS in October 2021

New Delhi, September 10:

The 13th BRICS Summit, chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by Brazil President Jair Bolsanaro, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping was held in a virtual format yesterday. While the summit’s focus was on the pandemic, multilaterliam and counter terrorism, activists state that the summit was exclusionary, failing to address complex issues facing the world today and BRICS countries.

As a response to the official summit which failed in living upto the principles of people’s issues and their participation, the People’s Forum on BRICS is organising a week-long online people’s summit, to discuss the concerns and challenges facing the BRICS nations and its people in October, 2021.

Amid the raging pandemic wrecking havoc to the lives and livelihoods of millions, the summit did not  address the systemic failures of the healthcare systems across countries. A transparent and scientific  process to understand further mutation of the virus to fight it was not mooted at the summit.

Activists stated that the official summit process has completely sidelined the people and their concerns. Madhuresh Kumar, National Convener of National Alliance for People’s Movements, India said; “In these times of climate and health crisis what we need is true people to people interaction and solidarity and genuine efforts at solving the world’s problems. BRICS countries together account for a significant mass of humanity and at this historical juncture unfortunately narrow politics is taking precedence over people’s lives and their democratic aspirations.”

As healthcare systems collapsed, economies took a huge hit too, barring China, every other BRICS country has gone into the negative terrain of growth. The pace of recovery remains sluggish although BRICS decided to strengthen its collective efforts to address the economic and financial slide. The absence of a concrete action plan has once again questioned if the original mandate of BRICS to challenge the western dominion of finance would actually be realizable.

 Patrick Bond,  scholar-activist based in Johannesburg said, “Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro favoured the restrictive World Trade Organisation rules protecting Big Pharma and intellectual property,  Russia’s Sputnik vaccine profit potential left Vladimir Putin quiet. As a bloc, the BRICS did not offer formal support to South Africa and India’s bid to waive intellectual property, and the supposed BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre announced at the 2018 summit in Johannesburg remains a myth.”

The process of Civil BRICS has also been a complete sham. Priti Darooka from the BRICS Feminist watch pointed out failures in engaging with the civil society. She stated, “India as the host this year for the BRICS Summit had the opportunity as the largest democracy to expand and build Civil BRICS as a platform for a true, meaningful and engaged participation of civil society — people to people — from BRICS.  Unfortunately, Civil BRICS this year was a total disappointment.  Firstly, it was the best kept secret that no one knew about. And secondly, it was shrunk to a panel with only a couple of civil society representatives from just one country and totally coordinated by the government.”

Responding to the official Summit Patrick Bond, said, “These BRICS are ‘spalling,’ which as any builder fears, signals that the masonry is deteriorating and chunks are falling off a wall. We’re in a time the world desperately needs a strong front against Western imperial powers, especially so as to combat the climate catastrophe and COVID-19 vaccine apartheid. There were no emissions-cut announcements and of the 7000 words, only a handful addressed the world’s most serious crisis: climate catastrophe.”

The People’s forum is being jointly organised by Trade Unions, Civil Society Organisations.  In 2016, the People’s Forum on BRICS took place in Goa prior to the official summit and was attended by more than 700 people including activists from various BRICS countries. There were similar peoples’ forums parallel to the official BRICS Summit in Durban in 2013, Fortaleza in 2014, Hong Kong in 2017, Johannesburg in 2018 and Brasilia in 2019.

———————————————————————————

For More Information Contact:

Anuradha Munshi: +919792411555

Sumedha Pal:+9711055753

Email: peoplesforumonbrics@gmail.com

G20 Research Fellowships- Call for Abstracts

Beginning in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, G20 started convening as an informal group of economically significant countries, now accounting for 85 percent of the world economy, 75 percent of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population, including more than half of the world’s poor and marginalized. The G-20 has the mandate to promote global economic growth, international trade, and regulation of financial markets. G20 along with Multilateral Development Banks shape the global financial architecture, with G20 being in a position to dictate the direction taken by IMF and MDBs.

12 years on, and 13 summits later, in 2021, the world is at a juncture not very far away from the 2008 crisis but vulnerabilities ranging far beyond just the financial crisis and inequalities exacerbating further. The temporal factors concerning the G20 nations require critical examination on a number of fronts for India’s presidency in 2023. The G20  mandate of preserving financial stability and macroeconomic coordination cannot be tackled without diving into the questions of structural change on the global and domestic levels. As new agendas are set and more flagship issues emerge, year after year, we also see an increment in the G20 stakeholders, leading us to questions of international cooperation, governance structure, and legitimacy of the club. Critics have also questioned the efficacy of the club and its credibility to deal with pressing issues in comparison to other similar groupings, as a self-selected group of economically powerful countries. The coming together of such heavyweights also brings into question the legitimacy of other multilateral organizations and or G20’s collusion with World Bank and IMF agendas.

With this backdrop, the Centre for Financial Accountability welcomes applications for the G20 Research Fellowship through the call for abstracts from the research community delving into the critical and scholarly study of the  G20 convening.

Submitted abstracts that are accepted for publication will be eligible for the G20 Research fellowship of ₹25,000 each, guided towards developing the research article/paper of 5000-7000 word length. We are looking to publish 10 scholarly articles/research papers into an edited volume or compendium.

Submissions must contribute towards a critical understanding of the G20 framework.  The aim is to bring together researchers representing different disciplines and methodological approaches. Possible topics include agendas discussed in the G20 meetings like the global economic framework, infrastructure development, international taxation, international financial architecture;  or priority agendas like the pandemic, climate change, disaster resilience, gender, sustainable development, migration, debt, the culture of cooperation, sectoral learnings; and/or policy discussions around the institutional structures of club governance formats, the associated comparative analysis and the questions of legitimacy regarding such forums of cooperation. This list is not all-inclusive; authors are free to submit abstracts on other topics that may be of interest to the understanding of G20 grouping.

Participants

Fellowship is open to researchers from India and remains open for co-authorship.

Submission Requirements

All submissions are to be directed via email to [fellowship@cenfa.org] with the subject line “CFA_G20 Fellowships_Abstract Submission”.

Every submission must include two required elements, as part of the email body:

  • Author(s) bio/contact information – Include short biographical paragraphs (up to 150 words per author) that lists the current position, affiliation (if any), and qualifications.
  • Abstract – The abstracts should reveal the purpose, problem statement, conceptual framework of the work in question, approach, etc. including five (5) keywords, and should be a minimum of 500 words and up to 750 words (excluding references).

If you have any questions, please write to [fellowship@cenfa.org] with the subject line “CFA_G20 Fellowships_Query”.

Important Dates

Abstract Submission Deadline: 30 June 2021

Announcement of the Accepted Submissions: 15 July 2021

First Draft of the Manuscript Deadline: 25 August 2021

Full Manuscript Submission Deadline: 15 September 2021

World Without World Bank: Action Week India – April 5 to 9, 2021

World Without World Bank 
Action Week India – 5th to 9th April 2021

Context

The World Bank and IMF are having their Spring Meetings(virtual) from the 5th to 9th April , 2021 where these institutions will go ahead and laud themselves for the achievement of dolling out billions of dollars for supporting economies through the pandemic. Through these loans it is defining development and reshaping policies and economies. In India, from support for privatisation of the banking sector to support for the new farm laws, electricity reforms, privatisation of coasts and sea, the IMF and the World Bank have been very clear on the neoliberal reform agenda.

Why: It is important as civil society, we respond and expose the Bank’s hidden agendas and lack of interest in inclusive and sustainable development for marginalised communities. The Bank is organising its Spring Meetings(virtual) from the 5th to 9th April, 2021.

What: As a sign of protest to the World Bank’s policies, interventions, and impacts on economies, Indian groups under the aegis of Working Group on IFIs (WGoIFIs.net) is organising a week of protest “World Without World Bank- Action Week” from 5th to 9th April, 2021 .”

How: As a part of the week long protest, we plan to collectively organise social media campaigns, webinars, release press statements, through the week focussing on the World Bank’s role in impacting policies, development agenda, governance structures in general, on different sectors and impacts on people.

What can you do:

  1. Tweet with relevant hashtags according to the theme of each day. The hashtags would be shared soon.

  2. Post short videos on Twitter and other Social Media in English, Hindi and regional languages and share with us so that we can amplify the voices.

  3. Post articles/blogs/opinion pieces on the issue.

  4. Issue Press Statements in regional/local media.

  5. Organize Online Meetings/Webinars in your groups and networks.

  6. Share Cartoons, Posters, Photos of Protest Against the World Bank (even earlier ones will do).

Please do share any resource materials/press statements/event information with us so that we can amplify them. You can send them via email at anuradha@cenfa.org

Themes of the day:

5th April 2021
World Bank reform agenda : Agricultural Reforms

6th April 2021 
Support to Campaign to stop doing business report

7th April, 2021 
Privatisation of rivers, coasts & sea

8th April, 2021
Energy sector reforms and role of IFIs

9th  April, 2021
Banking Reforms

More details will follow.

World Without World Bank Possible: Activists

Action Week on World Bank Brings Together Social & Political Activists, Probing their Past  and Demanding Accountability

Press Release |  October 16, 2020

New Delhi: A key message reverberating in the week long protest action was that a World Without World Bank is possible. Participated by people’s movements, civil society groups, senior political and social activists and concerned citizens, the week witnessed multiple actions, within the limitations imposed upon by the pandemic.

The Action Week from October 12-16, under aegis of Working Group on International Financial Institutions (WGonIFIs) was observed by online meetings, webinars and using social media to look into the past performance of the World Bank in critical sectors, which impacted the economy as a whole, and in particular, people, their livelihoods and environment. The purpose behind the protest week was to expose the Bank’s hidden agendas to push neo-liberalization and a lack of focus on either inclusive or sustainable support for the countries and people battling marginalisation. 

The week-long protest saw senior political and social activists and concerned citizens voice their concerns regarding the manner in which the World Bank has been pushing for a policy reform agenda changing the Indian economy and polity against the interests, rights and basic needs of the common citizens. In a video message eminent activist Medha Patkar stated World Bank is undemocratically influencing our policies, impacting our sovereignty and violating our constitution.” She further stated that “We can live without the World bank. The World without the World Bank can certainly be taking the alternative path, which we all are compelled to think about after COVID-19 and all calamities based on climate change.”

Many other activists, academicians and trade unionists voiced their concern over the manner in which the Bretton Woods Institutions have been pushing for privatisation in public services, dilution of environmental and labour laws, exploitation of natural resources in the name of Development , which have been detrimental to the interests of the marginalised. The other voices included Goldman Environmental Prize winner Prafulla Samantara, noted environmentalist Vandana Shiva, Afsar Jafri of GRAIN, CPI(M) Central Committee Member Vijoo Krishnan, Amulya Nidhi of Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan (JSA), Leo Saldanha of Environmental Support Group (ESG), Right Livelihood Award winner Sandeep Pandey, Former General Secretary of All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) Com. Thomas Franco; Madhuresh Kumar of National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM),  General Secretary of  Bank Employees Federation of India (Tamil Nadu) C.P. Krishnan, Joint Secretary of All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) Com. Devidas Tuljapurkar, Maju Varghese of Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), General Secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) Com. Amarjeet Kaur, environmentalist Ashish Kothari,  President of Nagpur Municipal Corporation Employees Union Jammu Anand, Sreedhar Ramamurthi of Environics Trust, Vimal Bhai of Matu Jan Sangathan, Patron of All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) K. Ashok Rao, Rajkumar Sinha of Chutka Parmanu Virodhi Sagarsh Samiti, Ashok Shrimali of Mines Mineral & People (MMP), energy expert Soumya Dutta and others who spoke about the impact of World Bank investments and reform agenda on agriculture, energy, environment, banking, health care sectors and on labour rights.

As part of the week long action, two international webinars were organized “IMF-World Bank: Did the Reform Agenda Get A Booster? –  Experiences Globally” and “World Bank’s role in creating Smart Cities  and it’s Socio political Impacts in Developing Countries- Voices from the South and Covid- 19” on the 13th and 15th of October, 2020. These webinars brought together speakers from the Netherlands, Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and India. Researchers, civil society members from across the world participated in the webinars, which especially brought together the voices from the global south,  coming together to discuss the commonalities of experiences vis-a-vis World Bank investments and policy push. 

In the webinar on COVID-19 speakers Nezir Saini from Recourse based in Netherlands, Hasan Mehedi from Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), Bangladesh  and Anuradha Munshi from Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) agreed on the concerns regarding the increasing external debt situation as the support from these institutions are in form of loans. IMF and World Bank funding for COVID-19 in developing countries is attached to policy reforms which will affect the social and health sectors and  encourage private players. This would be disastrous when the need for good public health infrastructure and care is more than ever before. 

In the webinar on Smart Cities speakers Jelson Garcia, an Independent researcher from Philippines, Elisa Sutanudjaja from Rujak Center for Urban Studies, Indonesia, Prof. Kris Hartley from The Education University of Hong Kong, and Gaurav Dwivedi, Centre for Financial Accountability agreed that the World Bank’s push for large and smart infrastructure has disempowered the already marginalised communities and pushed them to peripheries, destroyed traditional livelihoods, undermined the local governance bodies like municipal corporations and is creating parallel governance structures and pushing for privatisation of public services through PPP model, etc.

The movements and CSOs vowed to intensify monitoring World Bank and other international financial institutions and their agenda, negatively impacting India and its economy.

Resources

Recording of Webinar :

  1. World Bank’s Role In Creating Smart Cities  And It’s Socio Political Impacts In Developing Countries – Voices from the South: https://www.facebook.com/wgonifis/videos/912890472453195/
  2. “Covid-19 and IMF-World Bank: Did the Reform Agenda Get A Booster? –  Experiences Globally”: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=255382015914969

The Video messages of Medha Patkar, Prafulla Samantara, Vandana Shiva and others can be accessed here:  https://wgonifis.net/videoswwwb/

Issued by Working Group on International Financial Institutions (WGonIFIs).

Contact:

Anuradha Munshi – anuradha@cenfa.org / 9792411555

Nishank – nishank@cenfa.org / 9910137929

Working Group on International Finance Institutions (WGonIFIs) is a collective of organisations and individuals in India to critically look at and evaluate the policies, programmes and investments of various International Finance Institutions (IFIs), and joining the celebration of the people and communities across the world in resisting them.


Indian Civil Society Groups Announce “World Without World Bank” Action Week

Highlight the Impacts on Key Sectors in India During IMF-WB 2020 Annual Meetings

Date: 12 October, 2020

New Delhi: People’s Movements, Civil Society Groups, and concerned citizens are coming together to protest the World Bank’s policies, interventions and impacts which negatively impacted the Indian economy as a whole, and in particular in some key sectors, in a week-long protest, “World Without World Bank – Action Week India” from October 12-16. The purpose behind the protest week is to expose the Bank’s hidden agendas to push neo-liberalization and a lack of focus on either inclusive or sustainable support for the countries and people battling marginalisation.

The IMF-Bank is having its 2020 Annual General Meetings (virtual) from October 12-18, 2020.  

The World Bank Group continues to be the lead Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) defining development and reshaping policies and economies to fit the neoliberal agenda. COVID-19 has provided the Bank a window to reinvent its relevance through support to countries in fighting the pandemic. This support is coming through development policy loans which are silently pushing for policy reforms. The Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report, now tainted and halted for fudging of data, has played a devastating role in watering down environmental and labour laws in India and elsewhere. The Bank’s World Development Report for 2021, which sets forth the interest and direction of its investments, points towards commodification of data. 

India’s engagement with the World Bank dates back to several decades back with the first lending in ‘50s for the railway project. Later in 1968 a huge protest against the then World Bank President Robert McNamara for his role in the Vietnam war as the Defence Secretary of US, when he visited Kolkata led to his return from the airport itself, without being allowed to step out of it due to protests.

The late ‘80s and early ‘90s witnessed protests against World Bank lending to Narmada dam and later Singrauli power projects, directly resulting in World Bank’s withdrawal from Narmada dam and constitution of Inspection Panel, the first ever accountability mechanism in any MDB.

In late ‘90s, government tried to nominate WB staff to the Planning Commission of India, which the Left parties vehemently opposed and thwarted.

A number of protests happened during the decades of 90s and 2000s. Some of the significant ones are against Vishnugad Pipalkoti and Allain Duhangan hydro projects, Mumbai Urban Transport Project, struggles against the privatisation of health, water and power sectors.

The decade following that saw a valiant struggle against the power project in Kutch Gujarat – the Tata Mundra project. Filing a case in United States against the private sector arm of the World Bank – the International Finance Corporation – resulted in the Supreme Court of US ruling that World Bank does not enjoy absolute immunity from law suits, taking the efforts to hold MDBs accountable to a different level and giving an opportunity to communities around the globe to hold World Bank legally liable for the damages causing to them because of irresponsible lending.

The Bank continues to grow its influence in India through state partnerships impacting local governance structures. They pursue new and what seem to be more lucrative territories promoting privatisation and commodification of data, coastal regions, large renewables, large infrastructure, agriculture, health, etc. with little regard to impacts on communities, their rights over resources and to human rights. With the approach of maximising finance for development, there is a deeper connection of Development Finance Institutions with private financial entities making funding more complex and difficult to trace. These institutions despite claims of responsible funding and poverty alleviation continue to operate with lack of accountability and transparency.  

During the week-long protest Indian groups plan to organise a media campaign, online seminars and meetings to highlight the impacts of  the World Bank funding  in various sectors in India including health, agriculture, infrastructure, energy, labour, environment and on the Bank’s agenda of neoliberal policy reforms.

For more details: www.wgonifis.net

Issued by Working Group on International Financial Institutions.

Contact:

Anuradha Munshi – anuradha@cenfa.org / 9792411555

Nishank – nishank@cenfa.org / 9910137929

Working Group on International Finance Institutions (WGonIFIs) is a collective of organisations and individuals in India to critically look at and evaluate the policies, programmes and investments of various International Finance Institutions (IFIs), and joining the celebration of the people and communities across the world in resisting them.

World Without World Bank

Action Week -India; 12th  to 16th October, 2020

Context

The World Bank Group (WBG) continues to be the lead Multilateral Development Bank defining development and reshaping policies and economies to fit the neo liberal agenda. COVID-19 has provided the Bank a window to reinvent its relevance through support to countries in fighting the pandemic. This support is coming through development policy loans which are silently pushing for policy reforms. The Bank’s now tainted and halted for fudging of data,  Ease of Doing Business report has played a devastating role in watering down environmental and labour laws in India. The Bank’s World development Report for 2021, which sets forth the interest and direction of its investments, points towards commodification of data. 

The World Bank continues to grow its influence in India through state partnerships impacting local governance structures. They continue to venture into new and what seem to be more lucrative territories promoting privatisation and commodification of data, coastal regions, large renewables, large infrastructure, agriculture, health with little regard to impacts on communities, their rights over resources and to human rights. With the approach of maximising finance for development, there is a deeper connection of DFIs with private financial entities making finance more complex and difficult to trace. 

It is important as civil society, we respond and expose the Bank’s hidden agendas and lack of interest in inclusive and  sustainable development for marginalised communities. The Bank organising its Annual general Meetings(virtual) from the 12th to 18th of October, 2020.  

As a sign of protest to the Bank’s policies and interventions and impacts on economies Working Group on IFIs is organising a week of protest “World Without World Bank- Action Week- India” from 12th October to 16th October. 

Program (12th -16th October, 2020)

12th October, 2020-

  • World Bank Reform agenda (social media campaign)
  •  Agricultural Reforms (Social media campaign)

13th October, 2020- 

  • Health Sector, (Social media campaign)
  • COVID-19 Response (Social media campaign)
  • Webinar on “Covid-19 and IMF-World Bank: Did the Reform Agenda Get A Booster? –  Experiences Globally”  

14th October, 2020- 

  • Public Sector Banking Reforms – (Social media campaign)

15th October, 2020 – 

  •  Ease of Doing Business, (Social media campaign)
  • labour sector Reforms (Social media campaign)
  • Webinar on “World Bank’s role in creating Smart Cities  and it’s Socio political Impacts in Developing Countries- Voices from the South”

16th October, 2020- 

  • Energy Sector Reforms (Social media campaign)

More details will follow.

Updates from IMF: Forecast for Post-COVID Economy and Debt Levels

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released two updates in the month of June – first was the World Economic Outlook, titled A Crisis Like No Other, An Uncertain Recovery and another was the Financial Stability Report.

These reports and updates are some of the most watched reports by economists, policymakers and businesses. The earlier Economic Outlook in April, 2020 had predicted a growth in India by 1.9% and a sharp rise back to 7.4% in 2021. It seems that IMF again missed their economic forecast and this time by leaps as it revises their predictions yet again.

One is reminded of the Economic crisis of 2018 when IMF financial surveillance could not predict any significant risks to the global economy in their Economic Outlook reports. IMFs own working paper based on GDP forecasts of over 63 countries for the year 1992 to 2014 finds that the ability to predict turning points are limited and they miss the magnitude of recession by a wide margin until the year is almost over.

Likewise, a Bloomberg analysis of more than 3200 same-year country forecasts, published each spring since 1999 found its forecasts underestimated GDP growth by 56% of cases and overestimated it in 44%. Noted Indian economist and former member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM), Mr Rathin Roy had earlier commented on IMF projections as usually 80% wrong.

What is important to note is that IMF not only forecasts but also provides billions in bailout loans in exchange for implementation of strict austerity measures and other neo-liberal policies imposed in the country that are opposed by workers, civil society and citizens.

WORLD ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

IMF in the World Economic Outlook forecast has reversed their earlier observations and is now projecting a deeper recession in 2020 and a slow recovery in 2021, different from predicted few months back. Global output is projected to decline by 4.9 % in 2020. It also has estimated that the total output loss to the economy in 2020 and 2021 will be over $12 trillion.

India’s forecast has been cut by a sharp 6.4% to -4.5% for 2020. In the last forecast, IMF had predicted Indian economy will grow by 1.9% but it was revised to -4.5% in the update. This according to Gita Gopinath, chief economist IMF, is due to longer duration of the lockdown than it was assumed and rise in Covid cases in India.

Synchronized deep downturn

The update projects a synchronized deep downturn in 2020 for both advanced economies (-8%) and emerging markets and developing economies (-3% to -5%, if excluding China), and over 95% of countries are projected to have negative per capita income growth in 2020. The report mentions among other things the severe hit to labour market. It quotes ILO on the global decline in work hours which in the first quarter of 2020 was equivalent to 130 million full time jobs and predicts loss of 300 million full time jobs in the next quarter.

It estimates India’s liquidity support announced in different packages as of 4.5% of GDP in the form of loans and guarantees for businesses and farmers, and equity injections into financial institutions and the electricity sector.

Mounting Debts and deficits

Public debt is projected to reach the highest level in recorded history this year, in relation to GDP, in both advanced and emerging markets as well as developing economies. This is predicted due to steep contraction in output, fall in revenues and high fiscal support costs. The global public debt is expected to reach an all-time high, exceeding 101%of GDP in 2020–21—a surge of 19 percentage points from a year ago. India’s Gross Debt is projected to increase to 84 % in 2020 compared to 72.2% in 2019.

Read World Economic Outlook Update, June 2020

GLOBAL FINANCIAL STABILITY REPORT UPDATE

IMF also came up with an update for its Global Stability Report. The report captures an overall easing of financial conditions as there is a surge in risk appetite in financial markets and equity markets rallying back. This according to the report is due to the swift and bold actions by central banks and have boosted market sentiments. However this has created a disconnect between the real economy and financial markets. The Economic Outlook has predicted a further reduction in global output, loss of working days, reduction in revenue etc.

The pandemic has exposed the financial vulnerabilities including corporate and household debt which could become unmanageable given the continued economic lockdown during the pandemic.

Historically, globally debt has reached $55 trillion in 2018, described as the largest, broadest and fastest of all the debt so far. Aggregate corporate debt and household debt has increased in many economies and some of which will face an extremely sharp decline. This has led to broader impact on the solvency of companies and household.

The report has warned that rising debt levels and potential credit losses resulting from insolvencies could test resilience of the banking sector. Banks have to provision more for expected loses as they assess the ability of the borrowers to repay their loans. The Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) which now have a greater role in the financial system are vulnerable to pro cyclical corrections and the behavior of NBFC during a deep downturn is untested.

Read Global Financial Stability Report Update

In India, the increase in the stress of the banks is a pre-existing condition according to the Financial Stability Report of RBI published in December 2019. The Gross Non Performing Assent ratio of banks was estimated to increase from 9.3% in Sept 2019 to 9.9% in September 2020. The report also said state-run banks’ GNPA ratios may increase to 13.2% by September 2020 from 12.7% in September 2019. However as per the RBI Governor, the economic impact of the corona virus pandemic may lead to higher non-performing assets and capital erosion of banks.

Rating agency CRISIL in its report on Covid-19 impact has said that gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of lending institutions are set to rise 150-200 basis-points (bps) this fiscal due to higher slippage and lower recovery. This according to Fitch Ratings can be anywhere between 200 and 600 basis points (bps). Considering the Covid-19 impact, CRISIL has projected GNPAs in the range of 11-11.5% for the financial year 2021.

According to RBI itself, there is a need for re-capitalisation plan of public sector banks as the minimum capital requirements of banks will not be enough to absorb the loses.

Indian groups reject World Bank’s concept note for World Development Report 2021: “Data for better Lives”

The annual World Development Report (WDR) is a flagship publication of the World Bank. The 2021 WDR report is in the process of being drafted and is titled “Data for Better Lives”. The Bank has shared the concept note for the Report for comments. As per the concept note, the World Development Report 2021 will look into role of data for development, current data landscape and the opportunities of integrating public and private data and new institutional frameworks to manage a range of regulatory, policy and governance challenges in this context. 49 Indian civil Society organizations wrote to the Bank rejecting the concept note and the intent behind the concept note in which data is identified and presented as a commodity. The concept note is deeply problematic at many levels: it disregards the rights of people over their data and is based on flawed assumptions that have no basis in reality. 

The Concept Note, Data for Better Lives outlines a framework that enables corporations and the state to profit and advance their particular interests under the guise of public interest, poverty reduction and bettering the lives of people. Data that is built from information about the everyday lives of people will become one of the new engines for economic growth.  The document is neither rooted in experiences of communities nor based on any evidence.It’s unfortunate that the approach of this concept note is limited to business for private companies for which certain power needs to be given to the state and paternalism to the poor. The more significant issues of state coercion, protection of people’s rights over their data and information is in the peripheral in this document.