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AIIB’s Opaque Policies Under the Garb of Green Investments
AIIB has come under severe criticism over its opaque policies with regards to Financial intermediary (FI) investments as well as its over-reliance on and delegation of power to the FI client. AIIB currently has 3 active FI projects out of 10 approved projects and one in the pipeline. Of the three, Indian Infrastructure Fund was approved in 2017, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund was approved in 2018, and L&T Green Infrastructure On–Lending Facility was approved in 2019. Another project in the pipeline is Tata Cleantech Sustainable Infrastructure On-Lending Facility, which is in waiting for board approval.
The common thread in all these projects is their objective to mobilise private capital for investments in subprojects that will support an increased supply of renewable energy generation. This would also include support for large renewable energy projects. Another common thread is an absolute lack of information on any of the sub-projects of these FI investments, even for the ones that were approved two years back.
Currently, in the Indian context the central government has claimed there would be 40,000 MW capacity in solar parks by March 2022, twice as high as the earlier target. This target means solar parks alone would contribute to 40% of India’s installed solar capacity in the next three years. The government has so far approved 42 solar parks with a capacity of 23,449 MW. Some of the parks have a proposed capacity of less than 500 MW. There have already been concerns regarding solar sector being pushed for land-intensive utility-scale projects rather than focus on decentralized, rooftop or building-integrated small-scale solar. There has been slow progress in the governments over-ambitious and unsustainable plans of setting up solar parks owing to land acquisition issues. Solar parks in Bhadla (Rajasthan), Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh) and Pavagada (Karnataka) are hosts to over 2 gigawatts (GW) solar parks have already seen protests on issues of land acquisition. In an article, Priya Sreenivasan for Down to earth points out that, “Most parks, developed by nodal
Government agencies identify low-yield land and lease it from the farmers on 25-to 28-year-agreements, a win-win situation for everyone involved as the farmer has a steady flow of income. But in practice, the land acquired by developers isn’t always “barren”. With no clear penalties and regulations that draw the line on land quality, fertile cultivable land is often procured to build solar power plants. ”
In this context, it would not be incorrect to assume that there is a high probability of AIIB finance being invested in some of the big Solar Projects through its FI investment which seems to focus around large renewable also. With its current non-transparent policies, lack of information on projects, are we heading for the same disastrous that we have seen in India with FI projects funded by IFC in the past. It almost seems that these institutions have not learned lessons from their predecessor institutions like IFC whose support through FI investment to a coal-fired power plant GMR Kamalanga Energy Ltd, a company set up to develop and operate a large coal-fired power plant near Kamalanga village in Odisha, led to the first FI complaint ever with their accountability mechanism. This complaint had far-reaching implications with regards to policy changes. Today, IFC discloses information depending on the type of FI client.
AIIB currently does not include information about sub-projects funded through any client FIs on its website. No information at all is publicly available on the sub-projects supported by the three FIs in India. This leaves potentially affected communities in the dark about their rights to know both who is behind the project affecting them, and that the AIIB’s E&S standards should be applied. AIIB also delegates decision-making around risk classification and E&S management entirely to the FIs in which it invests. One of the defences of the AIIB management has been using to questions raised by civil society on lack of information with regards to FI has been the support for green investments. Is renewable now being used as a language for justifying lack of transparency and information? There are two important concerns at hand here:
- Transparency and accountability is not a choice. It is the basic set of principle for any financial institution needs to comply with when making investments, especially for development projects.
- The assumption of renewable projects not having any environmental and social implications is problematic. Large projects have impacts on land, ecosystems and environment even if they are renewable. In countries like India, where land remains the main source of livelihood, lack of stringent, transparent policies will end up in the same trap as for fossil fuel-based energy projects. Land acquisition and loss of commons remain issues of concern for community, and lack of information on projects will raise questions regarding the projects’ development effectiveness even if it is a renewable energy project.
It is time that institutions like AIIB stop using excuses to be non-transparent and unaccountable. Accountability and transparency are non-negotiable values for institutions and especially for institutions form the Global South where communities have faced repercussions and have put up a fight against the opaque policies of Multilateral Development Banks like the World Bank Group.
Press Release:People’s Movements Determined to challenge the unbridled expansion of infrastructure financing by international financial institutions
Chennai: June 4, 2018
• Peoples Movements & CSOs to organise Peoples’ Convention on infrastructure financing coinciding the 3rd Annual Governors Meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Mumbai
• Determined to challenge the unbridled expansion of infrastructure financing by international financial institutions
Posing a challenge to the rapid expansion plans of international financial institutions like AIIB, people’s movements, civil society organisations and their allies are holding a Peoples’ Convention in Mumbai just days before the 3rd Annual Meeting of AIIB. This was announced by the Working Group on International Finance Institutions (WGonIFIs) in a press conference in Chennai today. WGonIFIs is a platform of a large number of people’s movements and CSOs fighting against negative impacts of large infrastructure projects, financed by international capital, like bullet trains, energy projects, large commercial ports and transport projects.
“Looking at the history of IFI investments in India, like that of the World Bank, where a large number of people has been severely impacted due to rapid expansion of mega infrastructure projects, we are concerned that a new infrastructure investment bank like AIIB without even the basic social environmental safeguards will take away people’s rights over natural resources, deprive them of their livelihood and impact the climate, causing irreversible damages”, energy and climate change expect Soumya Dutta said.
In the Chinese led bank AIIB, India holds the second largest shares, next to China and is a favourable destination of their investments securing 25% of the already approved lending. Within a short span of 3 years, India received loans worth $1.2 bn, out of a total $4.4 bn. The approved projects for India include transmission lines in Tamilnadu, rural roads in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, 24 X7 electricity for Andhra Pradesh, financial intermediary India Infrastructure Fund. The highly controversial Amravati capital city project is under the consideration of AIIB Board. Another $3 bn worth projects are in the pipeline for India.
Senior activist Jesuratnam from the Coastal Action Network, Tamilnadu said that “Infrastructure banks like AIIB is likely to investment in projects like Sagarmala which has three coastal economic zones in Tamilnadu comprising of ports, roads and associated infrastructure which will disrupt fishing operations and livelihood of fisherpeople. Large-scale infrastructure will not only displace and destruct the livelihoods but lead to disruption of coastal ecology and public indebtness”.
People’s organisations, CSOs and concerned citizens, under the aegis of WGonIFIs will be holding a Peoples’ Convention in Mumbai from June 21-23, just days before the official annual meeting which will be held in the same city from June 25-26. The Convention will bring together people fighting against large infrastructure projects, and people negatively impacted by the international financial institutions financed ‘development projects’ in the country.
Some of them include, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Bhumi Adhikaar Andolan, National Fishworkers’ Forum, Natioanl Hawkers Federation, Narmada Bachao Andolan, North East Peoples’ Alliance, Guajrat Khedut Samaj and All India Union of Forest Working People.
“The program will bring voices from across the country who are affected by large infrastructure projects and will devise strategies to make financiers accountable to the people’, co-ordinator of the People’s Convention Maju Varghese said.
The People’s Convention will witness coming together of over 250 groups, deliberations in around 20 parallel workshops on the impacts of international lending, cultural expressions of protests and mass action.
For more information on the Peoples Convention visit http://www.wgonifis.net
Contact: Maju Varghese: email@example.com | 8826249887
Financial Analysis of the Blue Economy: Sagarmala’s Case in Point by Dr Himanshu Damle of Public Finance Public Accountability Collective, New Delhi and could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org The article was originally published here in an abridged form.
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