MENA Fem Movement for Economical, Development and Ecological Justice

Commenting on IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings in Marrakech – The Missing Hope

Suzan Nada,

Labor lawyer, Co founder of Bread and Freedom political party in Egypt, Accountability and Resolution Expert 

There is no doubt dialogue is important in principle and in the absolute terms. This year, the annual meeting took place at a particular context marked by natural disasters that hit Morocco and Libya. The earthquake that hit Morocco has cast a shadow over the meeting in Marrakech, reminding participants of the need to assign priority to human concerns. Natural disasters added to wars, coups and other sources of suffering such as inflation and a degradation of living conditions. This should have served to raise awareness of the participants in the annual meetings about the need to benefit the victims.

The second disaster was not nature made in light of the available data. The floods in Libya wiped out half a city, leaving tens of thousands killed or missing. These unusual floods cannot be ascribed to climate change. This should ring the alarm bell of financial institutions regarding the need to contribute to mitigate climate risks and reduce environmental degradation linked to fossil fuel.

The earthquake and the flood are both messages from nature to North Africa, a region that is rich in alternative energy sources although investments are at a very low levels. The two disasters should encourage more dialogue for those who care. Those who are interested in blocking dialogue have their own contexts. However, international financial institutions are called upon to explain why they do not pay enough attention to the calls of nature.

It was also hoped that dialogue and communication would lead to financial institutions reconsidering the austerity policies imposed on debtor countries, or that long-term loan ratios would be maximized, in the hope that this would reduce the high price of impoverishing many people in debtor countries, including the withdrawal of social safety nets benefiting citizens, including women, children and the elderly. Civil society organizations have long advocated and tried to explain that imposing conditions of austerity on governments would result in more suffering by by the people, which in turn would lead to more poverty and impoverishment, and then to anger and the possibility of unrest and instability. In short, austerity would lead to the absence of a safe environment for investment or development, both declared as the main goals. This vision was reiterated at this year’s meetings as well.

However, one example may suffice to justify how I will describe this dialogue(s) at the end of my speech. In response to alerts by civil society organizations regarding the inefficiency of the policies and the conditions imposed by international financial institutions- which impose policies that are inconducive to achieving sustainable development goals, the IMF director frankly answered that these countries are forced to borrow and therefore must pay the price, in an outright response that has nothing to do with prior claims about development or sustainability. It is the response of a bank manager who only sees that he is a bank manager. This shows the stark disconnect by those who claim to help peoples achieve stability and development.

The hope was that the civil society would perform its role fully in making people’s voice heard in counterbalance to commercial voices. So far, we saw no attempt to involve civil society organizations in any future elaboration of any financing or borrowing activity based on these meetings. In brief, I am afraid these meetings will end up as “dialogue of the deaf” as the parties that are allowed to speak will unlikely exceed that.