IMF confirmed international loan to Latvia

By Nina Kolyako, BC, Riga,
December 24 2008

Yesterday evening, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) board confirmed an international loan to Latvia.

Latvia will receive EUR 7.5 billion (LVL 5.27 billion) worth of financial support, writes LETA.

The European Union plans to allocate a medium-term loan to Latvia worth up to EUR 3.1 billion (LVL 2.18 billion).

Also participating in issuing Latvia the loan is the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – EUR 1.7 billion (LVL 1.19 billion), Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway – EUR 1.8 billion (LVL 1.27 billion), and the World Bank – EUR 0.4 billion (LVL 0.28 billion).

The European Reconstruction and Development Bank, the Czech Republic, Poland and Estonia will allocate Latvia another EUR 0.5 billion (LVL 0.35 billion), which is a total of EUR 7.5 billion (LVL 5.27 billion).

The loan will be issued to Latvia gradually over the next three years.

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Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera

Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera
December 18 2008
By Nelson Banya

HARARE

The death toll from a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has soared to 1,111, the United Nations said on Thursday, adding to pressure for a quick solution to the crisis in the southern African country.

South African ruling African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma ruled out military intervention and backed a diplomatic push as the way to end political deadlock and prevent a total collapse of the once relatively prosperous nation.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs Jendayi Frazer also backed a political rather than military solution but was far from hopeful about talks between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition on forming a unity government.

“We certainly think that the power sharing deal is on life support, it’s close to dead,” Frazer said in Mozambique.

That cast doubt on comments from South African President Kgalema Motlanthe that he hoped for agreement this week.

The latest cholera figures from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva included a new outbreak in Chegutu Urban, west of Harare, where more than 378 cases and 121 deaths were recorded, it said in a statement.

It added that more than 20,580 people had been affected by cholera since August.

The spread of the disease, which causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration and is normally easy to treat, has increased international pressure on Mugabe. Western countries have renewed calls on the veteran leader to step down.

Prominent figures, including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Nobel peace laureate and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have called for Mugabe to go or for peacekeeping troops to be sent to Zimbabwe.

When asked in an interview with South Africa’s 702 Talk Radio whether he favoured sending troops to Zimbabwe, ANC leader Zuma said: “No. Why military intervention when there is no war? We should be pressurising them to see the light.”

MEDIATION

South Africa’s ANC-led government, however, has continued to back the regional SADC group’s efforts to mediate an end to the crisis. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki is leading the mediation of the power-sharing talks.

Mugabe, 84, agreed to share power with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in September, raising hopes that a unity government could reverse the country’s economic meltdown and rebuild basic services.

Inflation in Zimbabwe has spiralled out of control. Prices are doubling every 24 hours and unemployment is above 80 percent. Millions have fled to South Africa and neighbouring countries is search of work and food.

South African President Motlanthe announced on Wednesday that Zimbabwe’s neighbours would launch an urgent humanitarian campaign. Motlanthe’s spokesman, Thabo Masebe, said on Thursday it would focus on agricultural aid and would be non-partisan to ensure it could not be used as a political weapon.

The amount of the aid had yet to be finalised and was likely to depend on how much countries could give, he said.

Negotiations between Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change are deadlocked over who should control key ministries, and there are growing fears the agreement will unravel and lead to violence.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March presidential election but without an absolute majority. He pulled out of the run-off in June, saying scores of his supporters had been killed.

The opposition says attacks have picked up again. They say more than 20 people have been abducted from their homes and offices in the past two weeks. The government has denied the accusations.

Source

Zimbabwe: MSF/Doctors Without Boarders, responds to worst cholera outbreak in years
More than 11,000 patients seen by MSF/Doctors without Boarders

December 12 2008

MSF/Doctors without Boarders, has seen more than 11,000 patients since August in Zimbabwe’s worst cholera outbreak in years and has opened dozens of cholera treatment centres throughout the country. Cases have been found in nearly all provinces. More than 500 national and international MSF staff members are working to identify new cases and to treat patients in need of care.

Harare has been the center of the outbreak; MSF has treated more than 6,000 people in the densely populated capital. A town on the border with South Africa, Beitbridge, has also been hard hit. MSF has provided care to more than 3,000 people with suspected cases of cholera.

Zimbabwe has had major outbreaks of cholera before – it is endemic in certain rural areas – but until the last few years it has been relatively rare in urban areas.

“The scale and the sheer numbers of infection especially in Harare is unprecedented,” says an epidemiologist for MSF who has worked periodically in Zimbabwe for the past seven years. He explains that the key reasons for the outbreak are the inability to access clean water, burst and blocked sewage systems and uncollected garbage overflowing in the streets. “The fact that the outbreak has become so large is an indication that the country’s health system can’t cope.”

MSF is working in two cholera treatment centers (CTCs) which are located in existing health facilities in Harare. The two main CTCs saw in total more than 2,000 people with cases of suspected cholera in the first week of December.

An MSF emergency coordinator in Harare describes the situation: “Imagine a cholera ward with dozens of people under the most basic conditions. For instance, there is only a little electricity so there is hardly any light. It is difficult for the doctors and nurses to even see the patients they are treating. The nurses have to monitor multitudes of IV bags to make sure they don’t run dry which is also difficult to do in the dark and when there are so many patients.”

In Beitbridge, MSF has set up cholera treatment centers run mainly by MSF staff using supplies shipped in from all over the world. The peak of the emergency was unusually early in Beitbridge, which resulted in a high mortality rate within the first couple of days of the severe outbreak in the town. By the fourth day, however, MSF had established a cholera treatment centre and the mortality rate eventually dropped from 15% to less than 1%.

Because MSF has been in the country since 2000 running HIV programs, it has been able to react from the ground and quickly bring in emergency cholera response units.

The outbreak is particularly worrying as it began well before the rainy season. A major concern is that once the heavy rains start, unprotected water sources will become contaminated, causing the further spread of cholera. The rainy season normally starts in November and continues through March, although the heavy rains have yet to be seen in some areas.

An additional challenge has been that government health workers in certain areas, particularly in Harare, are on strike. This has required MSF to rapidly recruit hundreds of nurses and other staff to handle the influx of cholera cases. Significant time and energy is needed to train the new staff, adding considerably to the workload of the existing staff.

MSF has also conducted exploratory missions in rural communities and responded to scattered reports of cholera cases. Low numbers of cases have been found in a number of small villages; MSF established small cholera treatment units (CTUs) where necessary. MSF has eight CTUs in five districts spread over the Manicaland and Mashvingo provinces in the eastern part of Zimbabwe and treated more than 770 patients.

A town on the border with Mozambique, Nyamapanda, also has been affected. When MSF arrived in early November the team found about 150 cholera patients and helped set up one cholera treatment center in the town, as well as four others with the Ministry of Health in the surrounding areas. In total, 1,600 patients have been seen in Mudzi District.

MSF will continue to monitor the situation and treat people in the most affected areas, as well as send emergency staff and supplies to various locations in Zimbabwe where new cases arise.

“A cholera outbreak of this proportion usually continues for several months,” the MSF epidemiologist says. “MSF expects to be caring for cholera patients in Zimbabwe for some time to come.”

Source

CARE Fights Cholera in Zimbabwe
Humanitarian group says as little as $10 could save a life

December 12 2008

Click photo to view an enlarged version (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

Children play with stagnant raw sewage at the Machipisa suburb in Harare November 28, 2008. Fast-spreading cholera is “the tip of the iceberg” of what stands to be a major health crisis in Zimbabwe, United Nations agencies said on Friday. Nearly 400 Zimbabweans have died from the disease. (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

HARARE, Zimbabwe

CARE is ramping up food aid and sanitation programs in Zimbabwe as part of the international effort to combat one of the worst cholera outbreaks the world has seen in recent years. The humanitarian organization also is calling on the public to help. As little as $10 could save a life. That’s what it takes to provide a household with a bar of soap, a water container and two months worth of aqua-tabs for water purification.

The epidemic has already killed more than 780 people and infected at least 16,400. Almost half the country’s population will be dependant on food aid by January, humanitarian officials project. Unfortunately, because they require large gatherings, food distributions are a perfect conduit for the spread of cholera. So CARE, one of the World Food Program’s largest partners in Zimbabwe, is providing sanitation training and improved access to water, too, in an effort to serve at least 900,000 people.

“More than five million people in the country need food aid right now,” said Fridah Kalumba, CARE’s assistant country director in Zimbabwe. “But with the cholera outbreak, we need to ensure people are protected during distributions, so the disease doesn’t
spread further.”
Click photo to view an enlarged version (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

A girl collects drinking water from a stream in Glen Norah, Harare November 27 2008. Zimbabwe, which is battling a serious cholera outbreak amid a worsening economic crisis, is set to get vaccines from China to fight the disease, state media reported on Thursday. (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))
The crisis is about to enter a pivotal stage. Health workers fear
that the coming rainy season, combined with families traveling
home from urban centers for Christmas, could cause cholera cases to soar in rural districts.

“Cholera outbreaks are usually localized,” said Teresa Chiesa, a
CARE health expert working to stem the crisis in Zimbabwe. “I have never before seen one like this with so many communities over
such a wide area being affected at the same time. It’s a horrific situation.”

CARE, which has been working in Zimbabwe since 1992, employs nearly 600 staffers in the provinces of Masvingo and Midlands. That has allowed CARE to coach people on proper sanitary measures in food distribution centers, schools, orphanages and seniors homes. CARE is supplying families with water jugs, chlorine, water
treatment tablets and soap. And the humanitarian group is building
hand-washing stations at critical sites.

In the longer term, if CARE can raise sufficient funds, it will launch a program to develop a secure supply of clean water. CARE needs $750,000 to carry out its preventative education program and a plan to drill new wells in water-starved communities. Drilling one borehole alone costs approximately $25,000.

“If we do not secure the water supply for these people in the long term,” Chiesa said, “the country will be looking at another outbreak next year, and the year after that, and so on.”

Source

Save the Children, )


Zimbabwe cholera epidemic ‘worsening’ says aid agency

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic is not under control, Save the Children said today.

December 12 2008
Speaking from the agency’s HQ in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare today, Rachel Pounds, a Save the Children country director said: “If anything is certain in the chaos of Zimbabwe today it is that the cholera outbreak is not under control. According to the latest figures 775 people have died so far. Save the Children knows this is an underestimate – not least because the figures do not include areas in which we work and where we know there have been many unrecorded deaths.

“Also, the percentage of people who are dying having contracted cholera in the first place is way higher than normal for this disease, in some areas. With even the most basic health care on hand, you would expect to see a death rate of only one or two percent. In some areas of Zimbabwe a third of those who have contracted the infection are dying.”

Ms Pounds added that said that the crisis was almost certainly worsening. “Reliable figures are hard to come by, but there is much evidence out there that this crisis is growing, not diminishing, especially as we know there are many people can’t get to cholera centres. Given that this is a disease spread by unclean water and exacerbated by hunger which weakens victims, this problem has clearly not gone away. Water and health services have collapsed and more than half the 10 million population needs emergency food aid. This deadly disease will continue to spread unless we get more money and more resources to halt the contamination and treat victims promptly.”

Save the Children urged the international community to listen to aid agencies working in Zimbabwe and to Zimbabweans themselves living with the horror of hunger and cholera. “It is ordinary families who are bearing the brunt of this crisis, and it is to them the world must listen,” said Ms Pounds. “They should listen to the mothers whose babies have died, and to the children waiting outside health clinics to see if their mothers or fathers will come out alive. That’s the reality here.”

Save the Children’s 200-strong team in Zimbabwe is helping to provide drugs to treat cholera and educating communities how to avoid infection, as well as providing food so that safe cholera treatment camps can be set up to prevent further contamination.

The aid organisation is feeding close to 200,000 people and helping families prepare for the future by distributing seed, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens. Save the Children has worked in Zimbabwe for 25 years.
For more information
Please contact the Save the Children media unit on +44 207 012 6836 / +44 7831 650 409

Notes to Editors

The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe has now reached unprecedented proportions. A cholera epidemic is already crippling the country, which has killed over 775 people.

Up to 5.1 million people will be in need of food aid to survive by the end of the year, over half the country’s population. One in 10 children in Zimbabwe die before the age of five, although with rocketing rates of malnutrition and disease, the child mortality rate will also rise.

Save the Children’s 200-strong team in Zimbabwe is helping to provide drugs to treat cholera and educating communities how to avoid infection, as well as providing food so that safe cholera treatment camps can be set up to prevent further contamination.

The aid organisation is feeding close to 700,000 people and helping families prepare for the future by distributing seed, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens. Save the Children has worked in Zimbabwe for 25 years.

Source

Zimbabwe’s meltdown in figures
December 18

2008The death toll from a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has soared to 1,111, the United Nations said on Thursday, adding to pressure for a quick solution to the crisis in the southern African country.

Below are some details of Zimbabwe’s decline in figures:

* INFLATION

Inflation reached 231 million percent a year in July, the latest month for which a figure has been announced. Economists think it is now much higher and say prices are doubling daily.

* GDP

Gross domestic product has fallen every year since 2000, down 10.4 percent in 2003 alone. The IMF estimated that the economy shrank 6.1 percent in 2007.

Per capita GDP was estimated at $200 in 2007, from nearer $900 in 1990. Zimbabwe has the world’s fastest shrinking economy for a country not at war, according to the World Bank.

* INCOME

An estimated 83 percent of the population was living on below $2 a day by 2005. Since then, the situation has only worsened.

* EXPORTS

Exports averaged 33.5 percent of GDP between 1997 and 2001. UBS forecast this would decline to 9.9 percent in 2007.

* AGRICULTURE

Once the breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe now needs to import maize. The U.N. agricultural production index for Zimbabwe fell from nearly 107 in 2000 to just over 74 in 2005.

Official figures show maize production at 800,000 tonnes last season against national demand of 2 million tonnes.

* GOLD

Gold output, which accounts for a third of export earnings, hit a low of 125 kg in October, from a peak of 2,400 kg, as the economic crisis forced mines to close.

* UNEMPLOYMENT

Unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent. Well over 3 million Zimbabweans are thought to have fled, mostly to South Africa, in search of work and food.

* AID

Aid agencies say 5 million people — almost half the population — might need food aid by early 2009.

* IMF ARREARS

Zimbabwe fell into arrears with the International Monetary Fund in 2001. In February 2008, it owed $88 million, of which nearly $80 million has been in arrears for three years or more. While Zimbabwe has averted expulsion, the IMF has suspended financial and technical assistance.

* LIFE EXPECTANCY

Average life expectancy fell from 63 years in 1990 to 40.9 years in 2005, according to U.N. figures.

The mortality rate for children under five rose to 132 deaths per 1,000 in 2005 from 76 deaths in 1990.

* CHOLERA

The official death toll from a cholera epidemic since August is at least 1,111 with over 20,581 infected, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe.

* HIV/AIDS

In 2007, HIV prevalence was 15.6 percent among adults aged 15 to 49 — the fourth highest in the world. It causes the death of about 3,200 people per week in the country of 13.3 million.

HIV prevalence among pregnant women at clinics actually fell from 26 percent in 2002 to 18 in 2006, but some put that down to high mortality and emigration rather than prevention measures.

* ANTHRAX

Save the Children said this month that an anthrax outbreak in the south west had killed three people and could wipe out at least 60,000 livestock.

Source

They left out Sanctions of course. Which has enhanced Zimbabwe’s problem substantially.

Zimbabwe Appeal: First cholera. Now it’s malaria and anthrax

South Korean central bank slashes key interest rate

December 11 2008
By Kelly Olsen

South Korea’s central bank carried out its biggest interest rate cut ever Thursday, slashing borrowing costs by a full percentage point to a record low in a bid to stave off possible recession.

The Bank of Korea said it was slashing its benchmark seven-day repurchase rate to 3 percent from 4 percent during a regular policy meeting.

Deteriorating economic data have raised alarm bells that Asia’s fourth-largest economy could fall into its first contraction since 1997, when the country was in the throes of the Asian financial crisis. Exports fell 18.3 percent in November from the same month last year.

“It’s quite surprising,” Citibank Korea economist Oh Suk-tae said regarding the size of the rate cut, which suggests that the bank may think “growth could be zero next year” given South Korea’s export decline and neighboring China’s first fall in exports in seven years in November.

South Korea’s economy slowed in the third quarter and economists have been divided over whether it can avoid a recession. Swiss bank UBS (nyse: UBS news people ) issued a bearish forecast last month, predicting that the economy will contract 3 percent in 2009 amid worsening conditions such as increasing non-performing loans, rising corporate failures, falling housing prices and slowing exports.

Citibank’s Oh said he will likely have to lower his forecast for a 2 percent expansion for next year. He said the economy will likely still manage to grow just above 4 percent in 2008. That would be down from 5 percent last year.

“General measures of economic activity are decelerating rapidly,” International Monetary Fund official Subir Lall said in a speech Tuesday in Seoul.

Lall cited slowing consumer spending and exports as well as falling business confidence as evidence for the emerging weakness in South Korea’s economy.

Thursday’s rate cut marked the fourth time the central bank has lowered borrowing costs in the past two months and exceeded the 0.75 percentage point emergency cut on Oct. 27, previously the largest ever.

The rate has gone from 5.25 percent to 3 percent since the cycle of easing began on Oct. 9.

The previous record low for the bank’s benchmark rate was 3.25 percent last seen in October 2005.

South Korea’s benchmark stock index showed little reaction to the decision, rising 0.4 percent to 1,150.33 points in late morning trading.

The South Korean won, which has been battered this year, traded 2.4 percent higher against the dollar at 1,361.

__

APTN cameraman Yong-ho Kim and APTN producer Hyun-ah Kim contributed to this report.

Source

Published in: on December 12, 2008 at 12:08 pm  Comments Off on South Korean central bank slashes key interest rate  
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Pakistan Promises IMF to Raise Rates If Reserves Drop and Eliminate Electricity subsidies

By Michael Dwyer and Khalid Qayum

December 3 2008

Pakistan’s central bank promised the International Monetary Fund as part of a $7.6 billion bailout that it will increase interest rates further if the nation’s foreign reserves drop too low.

The State Bank of Pakistan said its benchmark rate “will be raised earlier” than the monetary policy statement due at the end of January 2009 if reserves fall below an agreed monthly floor, according to the loan arrangement between the IMF and Pakistan. The Washington-based lender posted the agreement on its Web site.

Pakistan, denying blame for last week’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, was forced to turn to the IMF for a bailout after its foreign reserves shrunk 75 percent in a year to $3.45 billion. The IMF fell short of saying when it would allow restrictions on share trading to be removed, upsetting some investors who are awaiting the implementation of a 20 billion rupee ($255 million) government fund to help lift stocks.

“The stock market should be opened to allow free movement of capital,” said Farid Khan, director of equities at Credit Suisse Pakistan Ltd. in Karachi. “Focusing on the foreign- reserve position, while important, can damage the capital market and foreign investment.”

The Karachi Stock Exchange has prohibited investors from selling shares below their Aug. 27 closing prices, after the benchmark index fell 35 percent earlier this year. Ending the ban and “the use of public funds to support the stock market will be decided after reaching understandings with Fund staff,” the IMF said.

‘Tightening’ Policies

Pakistan’s economy may expand as little as 3 percent this fiscal year in response to a “tightening” of macroeconomic policies and a deceleration of growth in the nation’s trading partners, the IMF said. That would be the slowest pace since 2000, when South Asia’s second-largest economy grew 2 percent.

In order to secure the IMF loan, Pakistan’s government and central bank have also agreed to eliminate electricity subsidies by the end of June 2009 and to continue to adjust fuel prices to reflect international prices. That should reduce the budget deficit as a proportion of gross domestic product to 3.3 percent by 2009-10 from 4.2 percent in 2008-09 and 7.4 percent this year, the IMF said.

“Many of the major targets set by the IMF, including reducing the fiscal deficit and maintaining foreign reserves will bring discipline to the government,” said Samiullah Tariq, head of research at InvestCapital & Securities Ltd. in Karachi. “The IMF conditions aim at lifting the control of the government and the central bank over the fiscal targets.”

Interest Rates

The central bank’s net foreign-asset floor for the end of December, a breach of which would trigger the commitment to increase interest rates, has been set by the IMF at $1.165 billion. The level for March 2009 has been set at $671 million.

“Interest rate policy will be sufficiently flexible to protect the reserves position and bring down inflation,” the IMF said. “The program envisages a significant tightening of monetary policy.”

Governor Shamshad Akhtar on Nov. 12 raised the central bank’s key rate by 2 percentage points to 15 percent, describing the move as “the toughest decision of my life.” Inflation accelerated to near a 30-year high in October, with consumer prices soaring 25 percent from a year earlier.

The IMF has approved more than $40 billion of loans in recent weeks to prevent the global financial crisis and recession from undermining the stability of developing nations. Ukraine, Serbia and Iceland have already got funds from the IMF. Belarus has requested $2 billion and Turkey may also agree to emergency funding.

Pakistan completed its last IMF program in 2004 with a credit rating from Standard & Poor’s of B+, four levels below investment grade. S&P cut the nation’s rating to CCC on Nov. 14, one day before the latest IMF loan was announced, citing a risk of default on external debt payments.

Source

Pakistan Obtains $7.6 Billion Bailout Loan From IMF

By Khalid Qayum

November 25 2008

Pakistan obtained a $7.6 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund to help prevent the country defaulting on its debt.

The State Bank of Pakistan, which this month raised its benchmark interest rate to 15 percent from 13 percent, has committed as part of the aid to “further tighten monetary policy as needed,” the IMF said in a statement in Washington yesterday. South Asia’s second-largest economy will be able to immediately draw upon $3.1 billion of the loan, it said.

President Asif Ali Zardari, facing pressure from the U.S. to step up the fight against Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents along the border with Afghanistan, needs IMF financing to prop up Pakistan’s ailing economy. The nation’s foreign-exchange reserves have shrunk 75 percent in 12 months to $3.45 billion and economic growth is forecast to slump to a seven-year low.

Pakistan’s rupee gained 0.44 percent against the dollar to a seven-week high of 78.70, as of 11:15 a.m. in Karachi. The currency has declined as much as 26 percent this year as foreign investors spooked by the global credit crunch withdraw funds from emerging markets. The yield on the benchmark 9.6 percent bond due August 2017 held at 15 percent.

The loan from the IMF “will ease constraints on foreign currencies and it will boost the confidence of overseas and domestic investors,” said Samiullah Tariq, an economist at InvestCapital & Securities Ltd. in Karachi. “Now investors know that there will be a lot more fiscal discipline.” He said he expects rupee to strengthen to 75 against the dollar in a month.

Global Recession

The IMF has approved more than $40 billion of loans in recent weeks to prevent the global financial crisis and recession from undermining the stability of developing nations. Ukraine, Serbia and Iceland have already got funds from the IMF. Belarus has requested $2 billion and Turkey may also agree to emergency funding.

“The Pakistani economy was buffeted by large shocks during fiscal year 2007 and 2008, including adverse security developments, higher oil and food import prices and the global financial turmoil,” said IMF Deputy Managing Director Takatoshi Kato. “By providing large financial support for Pakistan, the IMF is sending a strong signal to the donor community about the country’s improved macroeconomic prospects.”

Pakistan expects the IMF loan will help it win additional aid from a group of other lenders and donor nations, including the U.S., U.K., China and Saudi Arabia. The group’s Nov. 17 meeting in Abu Dhabi adopted a “work plan” for financial help to Pakistan, the Foreign Ministry has said.

‘Significant Tightening’

To secure the IMF loan, Pakistan agreed to a “significant tightening of fiscal policy” and an end to central bank financing of the government. Pakistan plans to reduce its budget deficit to 4.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 from 7.4 percent in the past financial year, according to the Washington-based lender.

The cost of insuring a $10 million Pakistani government bond against the risk of default has more than doubled since the end of September to $2.28 million a year from $987,000 per annum, according to CMA Datavision.

Last week Pakistan’s government said the country’s $150 billion economy was expected to expand 4.3 percent in the fiscal year ending June 2009.

Growth is easing after central bank Governor Shamshad Akhtar on Nov. 12 increased interest rates by the most in more than a decade to curb inflation, which jumped to a 30-year high of 25.33 percent in August.

Pakistan completed its last IMF program in 2004 with a credit rating from Standard & Poor’s of B+, four levels below investment grade. S&P cut the nation’s rating to CCC on Nov. 14, one day before the latest IMF loan was announced, citing a risk of default on external debt payments.

Source

Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 8:07 am  Comments Off on Pakistan Promises IMF to Raise Rates If Reserves Drop and Eliminate Electricity subsidies  
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Pakistan gets $7.6 billion loan package from IMF

Supporters of Pakistan's opposition party Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Moment for Justice, take part in a rally against the U.S. missile strikes in the Pakistani tribal areas, Monday, Nov. 24, 2008 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Protesters urged Islamabad to sever ties with the United States over the strike _ highlighting the risks for Washington as it seeks to eliminate extremists along the Afghan border yet also support Pakistan's democratically elected government.
Supporters of Pakistan’s opposition party Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Moment for Justice, take part in a rally against the U.S. missile strikes in the Pakistani tribal areas, Monday, Nov. 24, 2008 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Protesters urged Islamabad to sever ties with the United States over the strike _ highlighting the risks for Washington as it seeks to eliminate extremists along the Afghan border yet also support Pakistan’s democratically elected government. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
By Chris Brummitt
November 25, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pakistan, the front-line state in the battle against Islamist terrorism, has won final approval for a $7.6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help stave off a possible economic meltdown.

The IMF said a first installment of $3.1 billion will be transferred immediately to the nuclear-armed country, which is battling surging violence by Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants and is increasingly seen in the West as key to stabilizing neighboring Afghanistan.

The IMF said the Pakistani economy had been badly hit by the worsening security situation, higher oil and food import prices and the global financial and credit crisis.

“By providing large financial support to Pakistan, the IMF is sending a strong signal to the donor community about the country’s improved macroeconomic prospects,” said IMF acting Chairman Takatoshi Kato in a statement released after the decision Monday in Washington, where the fund is based.

Pakistan’s young government had been reluctant to go to the IMF but had little choice after close allies — the “United States, China and Saudi Arabia” — turned down pleas for significant bilateral aid.

In mid-November, the IMF announced it had reached a preliminary agreement on the deal.

Opposition and nationalist lawmakers have criticized the government for turning to the fund, saying the IMF will impose “austerity measures” that will hurt ordinary Pakistanis, two-thirds of whom live on $2 dollar a day or less.

“This IMF loan the government is getting is in fact poison, and the nation has been forced to drink it,” said Javed Hashmi, a senior figure in the main opposition party, told reporters.

The loan removes the most pressing risk facing the country — that it would not be able to repay dollar-denominated government bonds due to mature early next year, said Muzammil Aslam, an economist at the Pakistani securities firm KASB.

Aslam and other economists said Pakistan’s government had already made some tough decisions, such as hiking the prices of fuel and electricity.

Many Pakistani economists and commentators argued that the country had no choice but to turn to the IMF. They say it is now critical that the money is well spent — always a worry in corruption-prone and chaotic Pakistan.

The IMF said in return for the money Pakistan had agreed to phase out energy subsidies, boost taxes and implement other money saving reforms. It said the World Bank would put in place a “comprehensive” social security net to shield the poor from any cuts.

In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month, President Asif Ali Zardari said the loan was “a difficult pill, but one has to take medicine to get better,”

The loan will immediately boost Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves, which have seen a rapid decline that has seen the value of the rupee fall some 20 percent since March, and enable it to pay off foreign-denominated debt due to mature soon.

The currency has clawed back some ground in recent weeks as it became clear that the IMF would step in.

The country is also wracked by power cuts, the costs of essential goods are soaring and the stock market has plummeted amid waning investor confidence.

Pakistan is one of a number of countries including Hungary and Ukraine that has sought IMF assistance in the wake of the global credit crunch. However, its strategic importance in the U.S.-led war against terrorism makes its financial and political stability particularly critical for the international community.

U.S. officials say that militants sheltering in its lawless northwest are behind much of the violence in Afghanistan, where a resurgent Taliban threaten the success of the U.S.-led mission there seven years after the invasion.

They also say that al-Qaida’s leadership — including Osama bin Laden — has managed to regroup in the region, and is possibly plotting attacks on the West.

Pakistan’s army is batting militants in several parts of the northwest but some Western analysts and officials suspect elements within the security forces of sympathizing with the extremists.

Officials in Peshawar said Tuesday that gunmen kidnapped a Pakistani working on a U.S.-funded aid project in the region.

Police said the attackers seized the man from a convoy of relief vehicles in the Dir region on Monday. Other aid workers escaped after villagers fired on the attackers.

The U.N.’s World Food Program said the victim was distributing wheat and cooking oil on its behalf. WFP spokesman Amjad Jamal said the food was paid for by the U.S. government.

Jamal said it was unclear if Taliban militants were behind the kidnapping and that WFP had received no demands.

Source

If it were not for the war next door to them and the fact the US continues to attack them, they probably wouldn’t need  help. War after all does cost a lot.

Stopping the Attacks on Pakistani soil by the US, would be in everyone’s best interest.

“If America doesn’t stop attacks in tribal areas, we will prepare a lashkar [army] to attack US forces in Afghanistan,” tribal chief Malik Nasrullah announced in Miran Shah, north Waziristan’s largest city. “We will also seek support from the tribal elders in Afghanistan to fight jointly against America.”

Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 9:33 pm  Comments Off on Pakistan gets $7.6 billion loan package from IMF  
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Germany to provide a 308-million euro loan to Iceland

November 22 2008

BERLIN,

Germany said on Saturday it would provide a 308-million euro loan to Iceland’s deposit guarantee fund so it could pay back savings of German clients of Kaupthing bank, which was taken over by the Icelandic state last month.

The International Monetary Fund this week approved a $2.1 billion loan for Iceland. The loan had been held up due to a dispute between Iceland, Britain and the Netherlands over how to repay savers with deposits in frozen Icelandic accounts.

German savers also had money locked up.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck told Tagesspiegel daily the German savers would get their money back in full.

The German loan would total 308 million euros, the amount savers in Germany had held at Kaupthing

Iceland was caught in the global financial crisis as its currency plunged and its financial system crashed last month under the weight of tens of billions of dollars of foreign debts incurred by its banks, three of which failed.

Britain, the Netherlands and Germany issued a statement last week saying they would provide “pre-financing” to help Iceland meet foreign deposit obligations. The IMF, in a conference call on Thursday, estimated those obligations at $5-6 billion.

A British finance ministry source said Britain would lend Iceland 2.2 billion pounds ($3.27 billion). The Netherlands said it was working on aid to help cover 1.2 billion ($2.63 billion) to 1.3 billion euros of Dutch deposits held in Icelandic accounts.

Kaupthing said last week it hoped to pay back customers of German operations in the next few days or weeks.

Germany’s financial watchdog BaFin has implemented a temporary moratorium for the German unit of Kaupthing and the bank said it had been working on an agreement with the German government in recent weeks.

(Reporting by Andreas Moeser; Writing by Kerstin Gehmlich)

Source

BREAKING NEWS: Iceland IMF loan approved

Iceland’s Economic Meltdown is a big Flashing Warning Sign

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 6:47 am  Comments Off on Germany to provide a 308-million euro loan to Iceland  
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BREAKING NEWS: Iceland IMF loan approved

November 20 2008

By Alex Elliot

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just confirmed that it will extend the requested USD 2.1 billion loan to Iceland, according to MBL.is.

In addition to this, the Finns, Swedes, Norwegians and Danes intend to lend Iceland some USD 2.5 billion. Reuters quoted a senior Finnish politician as saying that the Norwegians will provide USD 631 million of that sum; but it is not yet known how the rest will be split between Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

Earlier today, the Finnish business paper, Kauppalehti stated that in addition to the above loans, the Icelanders are also likely to receive a USD 500 million loan from Russia and funding from Poland, the Faroe Islands and the European Union.

IceNews will bring further details on the implications of this news as it comes to light over the next days.

Source

Iceland gets $2.1 billion loan from the IMF

By Robert Daniel

Nov. 20, 2008

The International Monetary Fund approved a two-year standby arrangement for Iceland, in which the country will receive a $2.1 billion loan, the agency said on Thursday.

Additional loans totaling as much as $3 billion have been secured from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

The Faroe Islands will also lend Iceland $50 million.

The IMF will provide $827 million of its loan immediately with the rest in eight installments of $155 million each. Iceland will repay the loan during 2012 through 2015, the agency said.

Source

Nice to see the other countires coming to the aid of Iceland.

Lets hope things improve.

Considering everything they have been through, they need their friends.

The people in Iceland are good people and desrve to be treated as such.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on BREAKING NEWS: Iceland IMF loan approved  
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World Bank, IMF loans not universally welcomed

World Bank, IMF loans not universally welcomed

November 17, 2008

India has the opportunity to borrow $30 billion from the IMF, in addition to $9 billion over three years from the World Bank to help it cope with the financial crisis. Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia says of the IMF loans: “with reserves of $200 billion, we really don’t need this”. However, he said that the World Bank needs to go further.

The Nigerian lower chamber in the National Assembly, the House of Representatives, on Thursday asked the Nigerian federal government to reject a $3 billion World Bank loan offer, the official News Agency of Nigeria reported on Friday. Dino Melaye, a member of the House in a motion sponsored along with 77 others, said previous loans from the bank had not been judiciously utilized for the provision of infrastructure. Deputy Speaker Usman Nafada, said the loan offer was another trap cycle of modern economic slavery.

See also:“Meeting global commitments to provide development assistance … paramount” – World Bank on financial crisis

Source

And we also have this.

Korea Rules Out Tapping IMF Loan

The World Bank and IMF in Africa

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 9:06 am  Comments Off on World Bank, IMF loans not universally welcomed  
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The do-nothing summit

Nicole Colson reports on the emergency meeting of the heads of the world’s 20 leading economies.

Group of 20 leaders gathered for an official dinner at the White House during an economic summit (Three Trees Images)

Group of 20 leaders gathered for an official dinner at the White House during an economic summit (Three Trees Images)

WORLD LEADERS emerged from the Group of 20 economic summit patting themselves on the back–or in the case of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and George W. Bush, giving each other a celebratory “fist bump”–for coming together to discuss the global economic crisis.

Not that they came up with any real solutions, of course.

Speaking after the meeting, Bush called the agreement negotiated among political leaders from the world’s largest economies “an important first step.” But a closer look at the proposals in question shows that they amount to “too little, too late.”

The general principles included in the G20 declaration include vague calls for strengthening transparency and accountability in financial systems; enhancing sound regulation; promoting “integrity” in financial markets; increasing international cooperation between the countries’ financial regulators; and reforming international financial institutions to include emerging economies.

As National Public Radio’s David Kestenbaum commented:

A lot of the details are “to-be-figured-out-later.”…Oh, the leaders said they thought economic stimulus (building new roads, mailing out checks, that sort of thing) were a good idea. But José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said each country would have to decide what was right.

In other words, although the G20 summit was portrayed as a coming together of world leaders to take coordinated action to bolster the world economy, the reality is that each country will do what it’s already been doing–use the power of its own state to boost its national corporations and financial systems, at the expense of other countries, particularly poor and developing ones.

That fact was underscored by the announcement that the group isn’t scheduled to meet again until April 30, 2009–more than 100 days after Barack Obama is sworn into office.

“Though the countries’ stimulus packages were cast as ambitious steps, they mainly reflected measures that the countries were already undertaking to respond to the crisis,” the New York Times reported.

“What remains to be seen is whether, working with a new White House, the leaders will cast aside their political and economic differences to embrace more radical changes, including far-reaching but fiercely debated proposals to overhaul regulation.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BEHIND THE scenes, even coming up with an agreement on these relatively toothless “principles” was nearly impossible, according to reports. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. seems to have dug in its heels the most at every suggestion of greater oversight and regulation.

Even mainstream economists rejected the idea that the summit achieved anything substantial. “This is plain-vanilla stuff they could have agreed on without holding a meeting,” Simon Johnson, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, told the New York Times.

As the Times noted, “despite broad support for economic stimulus, the leaders were not able to agree on a coordinated global effort. The Bush administration, which does not favor a further stimulus, resisted that idea. And the proposal for colleges of supervisors fell short of an international regulatory agency favored by the French. The Bush administration opposes any regulatory agency with cross-border authority.”

The U.S. also made sure that the G20 declaration is explicit in being committed to free-market orthodoxy.

“We recognize that these reforms will only be successful if grounded in a commitment to free-market principles, including the rule of law, respect for private property, open trade and investment, competitive markets, and efficient, effectively regulated financial systems,” the declaration proclaims. “These principles are essential to economic growth and prosperity and have lifted millions out of poverty, and have significantly raised the global standard of living.”

But it is “free-market principles”–specifically wholesale deregulation–that caused the crisis in the first place.

And as global justice campaigners Damien Millet and Eric Toussaint noted following the summit, under the framework of the G20 agreement, the world’s poorest will be the ones who suffer–particularly if discredited institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) gain a new lease on life.

Millet and Toussaint called the summit:

a dismal failure…a sorry show, a script that lacks any credibility, but few spectators seem to care. In detective films, it is seldom the case that the keys to the Court of Justice be given to arch-criminals. Yet this is what the G20 summit is planning to do…This G20 summit shows that lessons have not been learned. The old demons of the past are still with us.

The IMF and the WB, though further delegitimized by the failure of the measures they have enforced for 25 years and by the governance crisis they have experienced over the last years…are still at the heart of the proposed solutions. [World Trade Organization] negotiations aiming at even more economic deregulation, while we have just witnessed the utter failure of this policy, are again on the agenda.

While IMF loans could no longer find clients, Hungary, Ukraine and Pakistan have volunteered. Contrary to denials by concerned institutions, the same intolerable conditionalities are still the order of the day: as counterpart for the latest loan, Hungary had to decide, among other things, to suppress civil servants’ 13th month bonus and freeze their salaries. Japan even proposed to supply the IMF with $100 billion so that it could increase its loans and carry on its fateful activities.

Moreover, the meeting that was intended to find a global solution to the current crisis was not held in the context of the United Nations but in the limited context of the G20. So the very promoters of an unfair and unsustainable model are asked to rescue this model.

The only solutions that were put forward protect the interests of major creditors. Populations and poor countries as usual were not consulted.

When faced with such an inconsistent and ill-conceived script, one cannot but hope for a final twist that would introduce a measure of justice and ethics into all this. This final twist can only be found in social struggles all over the world to bring about a radical change in economic choices.

And if the film should end as dismally as it started, there is a strong chance that the audience will be highly dissatisfied and make it known to the 20 directors in the most vehement manner.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

EVEN NEOLIBERAL writer Thomas Friedman had to admit in his New York Times column that the financial crisis is far from over:

Governments are having a problem arresting this deflationary downward spiral–maybe because this financial crisis combines four chemicals we have never seen combined to this degree before, and we don’t fully grasp how damaging their interactions have been, and may still be,” he wrote.

Those chemicals are:

1) massive leverage–by everyone from consumers who bought houses for nothing down to hedge funds that were betting $30 for every $1 they had in cash;

2) a world economy that is so much more intertwined than people realized, which is exemplified by British police departments that are financially strapped today because they put their savings in online Icelandic banks–to get a little better yield–that have gone bust;

3) globally intertwined financial instruments that are so complex that most of the CEOs dealing with them did not and do not understand how they work–especially on the downside;

4) a financial crisis that started in America with our toxic mortgages.

When a crisis starts in Mexico or Thailand, we can protect ourselves; when it starts in America, no one can. You put this much leverage together with this much global integration with this much complexity and start the crisis in America and you have a very explosive situation.

“If you want to know where we are right now,” Friedman concluded, “rent the movie Jaws. We’re at that moment when Roy Scheider first sets eyes on the Great White Shark and comes back and says to the skipper, with eyes wide with fear: ‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat.'”

Source

So the bottom line is they had a really great party, at our expense.

They accomplished nothing and want to continue on the road that caused the Crisis in the first place.

Geniuses I tell you, they think they are Geniuses.

So they want to continue to help the planet on a downward spiral to purgatory.

In other wards they may not know what they are doing.  Not that I am cynical or anything.

Being so intertwined is not a good thing. The domino affect is costing we the taxpayers a fortune.

De-regulation is not the way to go. We have been there done that and we have the trillion dollar tee shirts to show for it.  So all we get is a stupid tee shirt.

I wonder what they are giving themselves, a raise in pay?

Someone should be checking their portfolios.

The Icelandic Government program with the IMF

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ICELANDIC PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE:

Reykjavik, Iceland

November 17 2008

In the wake of the recent international financial turmoil, Iceland’s economy is facing a banking crisis of extraordinary proportions. The economy is heading for a deep recession, a sharp rise in the fiscal deficit, and a dramatic surge in public sector debt – by about 80%. Potentially substantial capital outflows could lead to a further large loss in the value of the króna. In the context of the high leverage in the economy, this would produce massive balance sheet effects and a substantial contraction in domestic activity. The immediate challenges are, therefore, to restore a functioning and viable banking system, and to stabilize the króna. Looking further ahead, the challenge will be to reduce a very high level of public debt, by embarking on a process of sustained fiscal consolidation.

Banking sector restructuring and insolvency framework reform
The Icelandic government is committed to progressing a sound and transparent process as regards depositors and creditors in the intervened banks. Constructive work is being carried out towards comparable agreements with all international counterparts for the Iceland deposit insurance scheme in line with the EEA legal framework. Under its deposit insurance system Iceland is committed to recognize the obligations to all insured depositors. This is done under the understanding that prefinancing for these claims is available by respective foreign governments and that Iceland as well as these governments is committed to discussions within the coming days with a view to reaching agreement on the precise terms for this prefinancing. Furthermore, it is recognized that the payment by the new banks of the fair value for the assets transferred from the old banks is a key factor in the fair treatment of depositors and creditors in the intervened banks. Accordingly, we have instituted a transparent process involving two sets of independent auditors to establish the fair value of the assets. More generally, the fair, equitable and non-discriminatory treatment of depositors and creditors will be ensured in line with applicable law.

The bank regulatory framework and supervisory practice will be reviewed to strengthen the safeguards against potential new crises. Previous senior managers and major shareholders in intervened banks who are found to have mismanaged the banks should not assume similar roles for at least three years.

The insolvency framework to manage deleveraging and recovery in the banking, corporate and household sectors in an efficient manner will be reviewed.

Fiscal policy
Preliminary estimates suggest that the gross cost to the budget of honoring deposit insurance obligations and of recapitalizing both commercial banks and the Central Bank of Iceland could amount to around 80 percent of GDP and the general government deficit will be 13.5 percent of GDP in 2009. Overall, gross government debt could rise from 29 percent of GDP at end-2007 to 109 percent of GDP by end-2009. The net cost will be somewhat lower on the assumption that money can be recovered by selling assets from the old banks.

In order not to exacerbate the recession, the fiscal deficit will be allowed to widen to the extent that this is driven by higher expenditures and lower revenues due to the effects of the economic cycle. But given the high financing need and the dramatic increase in public sector debt, a planned discretionary fiscal relaxation in 2009 will be significantly scaled back.

The intention is to reduce the structural primary deficit by 2–3 percent annually over the medium-term, with the aim of achieving a small structural primary surplus by 2011 and a structural primary surplus of 3½-4 percent of GDP by 2012. A thorough analysis of the fiscal framework will be conducted and recommendations made, including on how local government finances can be better aligned with the governments’ overall fiscal plans.

Monetary and exchange rate policy
The immediate challenge facing the Central Bank of Iceland is to stabilize the króna and set the stage for a gradual appreciation. It can be expected that the króna will face near-term risks of pressure when the normal functioning of the foreign exchange market is restored. Extraordinary measures are therefore needed to deal with short-term risks and prevent substantial capital outflows.

In the very short-run, we intend to adopt the following pragmatic mix of conventional and unconventional measures:
• To raise the policy interest rate to 18 percent. The Central Bank stands ready to increase it further, but it is unclear that higher interest rates alone will suffice to stem capital outflow.
• Tight control over banks’ access to Central Bank credits will be maintained to avoid excessive liquidity being drawn down through this route.
• The Central Bank stands ready to use foreign reserves to prevent excessive króna volatility.
• Furthermore, the Central Bank is willing to temporarily maintain restrictions on capital account transactions. Such restrictions have considerable adverse implications and the intention is to remove them as soon as possible.

This process of normalization and lower inflation and interest rates can start as soon as the króna stabilizes in the foreign exchange market, all demand for foreign exchange in respect of current account transactions is met in the foreign exchange market, and there is no longer need to support the market by drawing on the reserves. Following the above mention actions, the króna could strengthen quickly and annual inflation will have fallen to 4½ percent at end-2009. Additional strengthening of the króna and further disinflation is expected in 2010. This will allow us to begin to ease control over Central Bank’s credit volume and increasingly rely on the policy interest rate as the primary monetary policy instrument, in the context of a flexible exchange rate policy.

Incomes policy
It will be important to have a national consensus consistent with the objectives of the macroeconomic program. Historically, income policy in Iceland has been very effective, with past agreements supporting the economic adjustment when difficult circumstances demanded it. Social partners recognize the need to enter an agreement that is commensurate with the severity of the situation.

Publishing and Parliamentary Procedure

A Letter of intent was sent to the IMF on November 3, signed by the Minister of Finance and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank. The Executive Board of the IMF will put Iceland’s plan on its agenda on Wednesday November 19. At the same time IMF’s Staff Report will be published.

Today, November 17, the plan was put before the Parliament and will be discussed there later this week.

A special information Web Page has been opened as a part of the Web Page of the Prime Minister’s Office, http://www.forsaetisraduneyti.is/Aaetlun_um_efnahagsstoduleika/. Among its contents are the Letter of intent in Icelandic and English, explanatory texts on every article of the LOI and other relevant information.

Source

Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 10:05 pm  Comments Off on The Icelandic Government program with the IMF  
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Serbia securing a USD 516 million from IMF

November 16 2008

Budapest.

Serbia has become the latest eastern European country to seek support from the International Monetary Fund, securing a USD 516 million standby loan to help stabilise its economy and boost investor confidence.Unlike Hungary and Ukraine, which want immediate access to huge IMF loans.

Serbia says it will use the money only to avert any as yet unforeseen difficulties, The Irish Times reported.

“We’ve reached a 15-month standby agreement,” said Serb finance minister Diana Dragutinovic. “This programme will allow us to draw funds only if we need them. We believe we will not need the money… It will strengthen foreign investor confidence, while giving us all a sense of security.”

Serbia’s dinar currency and foreign reserves have slumped in the last month, driving it into talks with the IMF, and analysts have warned of economic problems and a possible run on the dinar.

The Serb central bank announced yesterday that growth in 2009 would slow to 3 per cent from 7 per cent this year, down from a previous forecast of 3.5 per cent and, as part of the IMF deal.

Belgrade agreed to cut government spending.  As a result, Serbia is expected to reduce its budget deficit and rate of inflation.

“Serbia should be able to withstand financial difficulties that are coming but this will very much depend on whether Serbia implements much stronger and more credible policies than in the past,” said the head of the IMF mission to Belgrade, Albert Jaeger.

Source

Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 8:17 am  Comments Off on Serbia securing a USD 516 million from IMF  
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British study links IMF loans to tuberculosis

This if from July 21 2008 but seems to be relevant even now.

LONDON

Austerity measures attached to International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans may have contributed to a resurgence in tuberculosis in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, researchers said on Tuesday.

Governments may be reducing funding for health services such as hospitals and clinics to meet strict IMF economic targets, the British researchers said.

The study, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine, found that countries participating in IMF programmes had seen tuberculosis death rates increase by at least 17 percent between 1991 and 2000 — equivalent to more than 100,000 additional deaths. About one million new cases were recorded during the same period.

Nations that received money from other institutions with less restrictive economic conditions attached had seen a nearly 8 percent drop in tuberculosis death rates, David Stuckler and colleagues at the University of Cambridge said.

“IMF lending did not appear to be a response to worsened health outcomes; rather, it appeared to be a precipitant of such outcomes,” they wrote.

But an IMF spokesman questioned whether the study took into account the instability following the break-up of the Soviet Union, and said it takes time for the disease to develop so the mortality rates could be linked to something previously.

“If the IMF had not stepped in to help the post-communist countries, the declines in health spending would likely have been more pronounced and disease generally more severe,” IMF spokesman William Murray said in an email.

Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease typically attacking the lungs that kills an estimated 1.6 million each year around the world.

The emergence and spread of drug-resistant germs makes treating it much harder and could make the disease even deadlier. Parts of the former Soviet Union are some of the hardest hit by drug-resistant TB.

The researchers used a statistical model to compare tuberculosis rates for 21 post-Communist countries along with the timing and length of IMF loans to other lending programmes.

Even when considering population changes, war, inflation and other factors that can lead to new cases, the researchers found that rising TB rates correlated closely to when IMF funding began.

The size of a loan and length of time a country participated were also important, according to the study that analyzed IMF programmes in the region and TB rates between 1991 and 2000.

“We tested a lot of competing explanations and none could account for the patterns,” Stuckler said in a telephone interview. “We are not saying the IMF loans are the only determinant but they help explain some of the patterns.”

(Reporting by Michael Kahn; Editing by Maggie Fox and Sami Aboudi)

Source

Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 7:57 am  Comments Off on British study links IMF loans to tuberculosis  
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Korea Rules Out Tapping IMF Loan

November 16 2008

By Lee Hyo-sik

President Lee Myung-bak ruled out the possibility of utilizing IMF money, Sunday, citing Korea’s sufficient foreign exchange reserves and the bitter memory of the bailout following the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

After attending the G20 summit in Washington Saturday, Lee said that the government will not need to turn to the Washington-based organization for funds, stressing the nation can ride out the current economic difficulties on its own.

“The government has decided not to use an IMF loan because if we receive money from it, everyone will see that as a sign of trouble. We had no choice but to ask for dollars from the IMF 10 years ago, but the situation is completely different now,” the President noted.

He then said the financial institution should reform itself drastically to regain creditability among its member economies. “In a meeting with IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, I told him that the way the IMF treated troubled economies 10 years ago tarnished its image because it imposed a range of stringent conditions that did not help the recipients much. I urged him to spare no effort to overhaul the organization to be reborn as a trustworthy international entity,” Lee stressed.

Additionally, Bloomberg quoted Deputy Strategy and Finance Minister Shin Je-yoon as saying that Korea will not tap the IMF for loans because the nation has sufficient foreign exchange reserves and other lines of credit it can draw upon.

It also reported that Shin said the Korean government may introduce more fiscal stimulus measures to boost domestic demand and thus spur growth amid growing concerns of a global recession and its fallout on Korea.

“If circumstances worsen, we are ready anytime to take more action. We want to stimulate domestic demand by using fiscal policy. We still have much room to implement such measures,” the newswire quoted Shin as saying.

His remarks come at a time when the world’s 13th largest economy is facing increasing downside risks in the wake of a global economic downturn as domestic demand continues to deteriorate, failing to offset falling outbound shipments.

Major research institutes at home and abroad project that Asia’s fourth largest economy will expand by below 4 percent next year, with UBS floating the possibility of only 1.1 percent growth. The state-run Korea Development Institute projected that the economy will grow 3.3 percent from a year earlier, while Samsung Economic Research Institute put Korea’s 2009 growth rate at 3.6 percent.

However, the government has pledged to propel growth to the 4 percent range, create 200,000 jobs and post a current account surplus of $5 billion next year through a $26 billion stimulus package, equal to 3.7 percent of GDP. The package includes 11 trillion won in additional spending to initiate public infrastructure projects, and three trillion won in tax cuts.

The Bank of Korea has also slashed the benchmark seven-day repurchase agreement rate by 1 percentage point to 4 percent since late last month in a move to ease a liquidity shortage and minimize the economic downturn.

Source

Belarus threatens to quit IMF

November 16 2008
Cash-strapped Belarus has said it may turn its back on the International Monetary Fund if the organization refuses to give it a US$ 2 billion loan.

The hard-line President of the former Soviet state, Aleksandr Lukashenko, issued the warning in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, which was broadcast on Belarusian TV on Friday.

“We survived without IMF loans before, during the severest of times” he said. “If they deny it now, we will build our co-operation with the IMF accordingly”.

This means the country would likely to sever ties with the IMF, often described as the international lender of last resort.
“I have told the government and the chairman of the National Bank that if they don’t help us in our situation – which is not as bad as in other countries to which they [the IMF] give loans – why should we co-operate?” Lukashenko said.

The hard-line leader added that as a member of the IMF, Belarus had regularly contributed money to the fund and taken part in its meetings.

“So what for do we need it all, if we are treated like this?” the Belarusian president concluded.

Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 7:09 am  Comments Off on Belarus threatens to quit IMF  
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World Leaders Must Roll Back Radical WTO Financial Service Deregulation

Nov. 14, 2008

To Address Crisis, World Leaders Must Roll Back Radical WTO Financial Service Deregulation Requirements, not Push WTO Doha Round’s Further Financial Sector Deregulation

Bush’s Stubborn, Ideological Defense of Market-uber-alles Global Economic Deregulation Model Threatens Summit’s Prospects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Remedying the financial crisis will require significant changes to existing World Trade Organization (WTO) rules that lock in domestically and export worldwide the extreme financial services deregulatory agenda favored by the world’s banking and insurance giants that fostered the crisis, Public Citizen said.

“President Bush’s insistence that further deregulation and liberalization is the solution to addressing the financial crisis spawned by radical financial services deregulation is the sort of backwards, ideological approach that could squander the prospects that Saturday’s summit produces any remedies for the crisis,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division.

Calls by many other world leaders for new global financial services regulation have been accompanied by a seeming total lack of awareness that most of the world’s countries are bound to expansive WTO financial services deregulation requirements to stay out of the business of regulating financial services. More than 100 countries signed the 1997 WTO Financial Services Agreement.

Despite the pervasive role of the WTO in worldwide financial service deregulation, in the lead up to this Saturday’s G-20 Global Financial Crisis Summit in Washington, D.C., the only comments regarding adherence to global trade rules have been of the red herring variety: panicky warnings about the perils of countries raising tariffs to block imports in response to dire economic conditions – something no country has proposed.

In contrast, in recent weeks, the Bush administration and governments worldwide have taken various measures to counter the crisis. These measures contradict the fundamental precepts of the current globalization model – and in some cases violate the rules implementing this model, such as those of the WTO. Plus, many of the most basic national and international remedies now being proposed to fix the mess and avoid future meltdowns occupy policy space that governments ceded to the WTO a decade ago.

“Altering the WTO financial services rules is critical for creating domestic policy space to address the crisis,” Wallach said. “However, even in the face of this crisis, the United States and the European Union are pushing for further financial services liberalization in the ongoing WTO Doha Round, the conclusion of which they are now pushing as a cure to the crisis, even as they find that flaunting the existing WTO terms is the necessary course of action.”

As part of its original WTO commitments, the United States agreed to conform a broad array of financial services – including banking, insurance and other financials services – to comply with WTO rules.

“Unless the radical financial services deregulation agenda that has been aggressively promoted and entrenched by the WTO, World Bank and International Monetary Fund is understood as a source of the current crisis, reform proposals will not address the crisis’ root causes,” Wallach said.

For more information about the WTO’s role in the crisis, read our memo to reporters, Elimination of WTO’s Radical Financial Service Deregulation Requirements Must Be Addressed at Nov. 15 Summit.

Source

Letter to U.S. Congress from 243 Civil Society Groups in 90 Developing Countries: To Combat Global Poverty and Allow Developing Countries to Develop Please Reject Pressure to Give President Bush New Fast Track Authority to Push WTO Escalation Via the Doha Round

More Fair Traders have been elected.

Fair Trade Gets an upgrade

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

The World Bank and IMF in Africa

Published in: on November 15, 2008 at 7:30 am  Comments Off on World Leaders Must Roll Back Radical WTO Financial Service Deregulation  
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Icelanders Take to Streets to Protest Government’s IMF Loan Failure

By Tasneem Brogger and Helga Kristin Einarsdottir

November  14 2008

Icelanders will take to the streets in their thousands tomorrow to protest the government’s failure to clinch a $6 billion International Monetary Fund-led loan while countries in less dire economic straits jump the IMF queue.

Weekly protests in downtown Reykjavik may swell to 20,000 soon, or 6 percent of the population, said Andres Magnusson, chief executive of the Icelandic Federation of Trade and Services. The islanders are venting their anger on politicians as prices soar, the krona collapses and the economy goes into reverse.

“Enormous mistakes were made, but those who made them are still in the same place,” said Hildigunnur Runarsdottir, a music composer who has attended five protests since the country’s banking system collapsed last month. “They don’t seem to be doing anything at all about the situation.”

The Atlantic island, which had the fifth-highest per capita income in the world last year, needs the money to finance imports and revive the banking system. Central bank forecasts that the economy will contract 8.3 percent next year may prove optimistic if the loan isn’t approved soon, said Lars Christensen, chief analyst at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen.

This “isn’t sustainable,” Christensen said. “You can’t starve the economy, and that’s what the government’s doing at the moment. Every day that passes makes the economic outlook worse.”

`Depressed’

Many retailers are relying on credit from their suppliers to keep their shops stocked.

“I have a long-standing relationship with suppliers, who have given me 30-60 days credit,” said Gudrun Steingrimsdottir, who runs a lingerie store in central Reykjavik. “If the situation persists another month, I don’t know what is going to happen.”

Trouble is, neither does anyone else.

“The main thing that is creating unrest is that the government doesn’t come forward and inform the public what is on the agenda,” Magnussen said. “Nobody can get any information.”

As the currency fell and imports shrank, the inflation rate reached an 18-year high of 15.9 percent in October. Delays in sealing a loan package mean the central bank can’t return the currency to free float. The bank now holds daily krona auctions, with the currency trading for 178 against the euro on Nov. 12, compared with about 90 kronur per euro at the start of the year. The traded volume at that auction was 13.8 million euros.

“What I notice is how depressed people have become,” said Steingrimsdottir. “We know nothing. People seem to have lost all hope.”

IMF Rescue

The IMF is withholding approval of its $2.1 billion loan until other lenders agree to fulfill their commitments to a wider bailout, Fund spokesman Bill Murray said on Nov. 11.

Norway has pledged 500 million euros ($635 million), the Faroe Islands 300 million kronor ($50 million) and Poland $200 million. That leaves Iceland well short of the $6 billion it says it needs.

Complicating talks are U.K. and Dutch demands that the government repay depositors at the Internet unit of Iceland’s collapsed Landsbanki Island hf. Those debts may amount to as much as 5.5 billion pounds ($8.2 billion), the size of Iceland’s economy, according to a report by Jon Danielsson, an economist at the London School of Economics.

“By comparison, the total amount of reparations payments demanded of Germany following World War I was around 85 percent of GDP,” Danielsson said.

Iceland’s government has accepted it will have to reach a negotiated solution to the dispute with the U.K. and the Netherlands to get the IMF loan, the newspaper Morgunbladid said yesterday, without saying where it got the information.

Envy

Icelanders are shooting envious glances at Eastern Europe where Hungary and Ukraine received loans from the IMF within two weeks of asking. Iceland has little to show for its efforts, six weeks after its banking system started to collapse.

“It’s worrying enough that they’re not getting the $6 billion they’re talking about, but the fact they’re not even getting the $2 billion is very worrying,” Christensen said. “It’s amazing that Ukraine is able to get a $16 billion loan, one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and Iceland is not able to pull it off.”

Ukraine had its $16.4 billion loan from the IMF approved on Nov. 6. Hungary said on Nov. 11 it’s already drawn on the first 4.9 billion euro ($6.16 billion) tranche of its IMF-led 20 billion-euro loan.

While the IMF loans to Hungary and Ukraine make up less than 20 percent of those countries’ gross domestic products, Iceland needs loans worth more than its entire GDP to repay debts built up through five years of economic boom.

“We should have turned the music down when the party got out of hand,” Runarsdottir said.

Source

Bottom line, it all started in the US.

Iceland has be hit extremely hard and things don’t seem to be improving.

Protests against Crisis in Iceland Get out of Hand
November 10 2008

People ganged up on police during the latest in a series of protests outside Iceland’s Althingi parliament in central Reykjavík on Saturday. Police were having problems with keeping the situation under control and one man was arrested.

From the protests on Saturday, November 8. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Demonstrators were demanding actions to improve the economic situation, Fréttabladid reports.

“There is nothing wrong with people protesting in a democratic society but one also has to differentiate between legal peaceful demonstrations and riots,” Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde told Morgunbladid. “A demonstration is in real danger of becoming a riot when the parliament building is pelted with stones.”

Among actions undertaken by protestors was raising the Bónus supermarket-chain flag (a pink piggybank on a yellow background), from the parliament building roof.

Haarde said his government was trying to inform the public on the status of the situation as quickly as possible—lack of information is one of the issues angering demonstrators—with regular press conferences, via the websites of the ministries and elsewhere.

“People who ask for information should be able to receive it,” Haarde stated.

Source

More on Protests

One problem leads to yet another.

Iceland Cuts Funds to Foreign Aid

Iceland’s Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir presented yesterday a strategy for limiting expenses at her ministry in light of the economic depression, including cutting funds to development assistance.

Well you do what you have to do.

By Alex Elliott
November 13 2008

Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, Icelandic Foreign Minister, says she is hopeful the negotiations currently underway in Brussels to work out a satisfactory settlement with the British and Dutch governments over Icesave compensation can be completed tonight or tomorrow, MBL.is reports.

Stod 2 television news reported this evening that the Icelandic delegation has adjourned the meeting until midnight, when their conclusions may be delivered. According to sources, the British government is reported to be demanding the equivalent of ISK 600 billion (USD 4.7 billion) to pay British Icesave customers up to the EUR 20,000 state guarantee. If an agreement is reached, it is thought Iceland will be free to take control of Landsbanki’s UK assets and sell them – generating crucial revenue. The burden on the Icelandic tax payer will likely be less than feared.

The Foreign Minister said in an interview with the Icelandic state broadcaster RÚV, that the government has received a very clear message on just how important it is to resolve the Icesave issue with the Dutch and British. It is important for the entire European economy. A lot is at stake if the issue is not successfully resolved very soon, she said.

Source

Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 6:02 am  Comments Off on Icelanders Take to Streets to Protest Government’s IMF Loan Failure  
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President Bush: global crisis does not mean free market has failed

November 14, 2008

As he sought to deflect European calls for more regulation, President Bush told world leaders flying into Washington yesterday for an emergency meeting that the global financial crisis did not signal the failure of the free market.

Speaking on Wall Street last night, he said: “Government intervention is not a cure-all. While reforms in the financial sector are essential, the solution to today’s problems is sustained economic growth. The surest path to that growth is free markets and free people.”

His comments were a veiled warning to Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who are pushing for a drastic restructuring of the world’s financial regulatory systems.

Leaders representing the Group of 20 nations are due to gather in Washington for a working dinner this evening and formal meetings tomorrow to discuss reforms that could prevent a repeat of the global financial meltdown experienced over the last three months.

While this weekend’s summit is not expected to produce dramatic actions, Mr Bush, who is hosting the meeting, has a list of topics that he wants the group to consider, including forcing banks to be more transparent in their accounts. The President is also proposing changes to the way that some complex securities are traded, and a reform of institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

Other leaders have come with their own national agendas. Gordon Brown wants the IMF to create a special body of experts who would act as an early warning system for new financial crises. Arriving in New York for the summit, Mr Brown defended his own plans to cut taxes and told fellow leaders that “the cost of inaction will be far greater than the cost of any action”. He hopes to gain political cover for a package of tax cuts and public-spending increases by persuading other nations to match the giveaway at the meeting of the G20 group of nations. “It is now becoming increasingly accepted around the world that a temporary and affordable fiscal stimulus is necessary,” he said. “By acting now we can stimulate growth in all our economies.” He said that there was a “need for urgency”.

France is more preoccupied with plans to introduce cross-border regulations, which would allow them to control the operations of French banks such as Société Générale abroad. The Germans are pushing for very heavy regulation of hedge funds.

All leaders of the G20, however, are united by one factor – fear. During the last three months banks and insurers across the world have collapsed, governments and central banks have sought to cope by co-ordinating interest rate cuts and injecting billions into the global banking system to keep it afloat, and the world’s biggest economies are now facing a prolonged period of severe economic recessions.

The UN Secretary-General gave warning that the financial crisis could trigger unrest and even war. In a letter to the G20 leaders, Ban Ki Moon also underlined the perils of protectionism. “The lesson of the 1930s is that a spiral of protectionism can deepen a recession,” he said.

The ghost at this weekend’s feast is Barack Obama. He has declined an invitation to attend the summit, preferring to remain in Chicago where he is putting together policies and personnel for an administration that will take over on January 20.

According to British diplomats in Washington, Mr Brown believes that he is in broad agreement with the President-elect on the shape of international economic intervention.

Source

President Bush told world leaders flying into Washington yesterday for an emergency meeting that the global financial crisis did not signal the failure of the free market.

Speaking on Wall Street last night, he said: “Government intervention is not a cure-all. While reforms in the financial sector are essential, the solution to today’s problems is sustained economic growth. The surest path to that growth is free markets and free people.”

So he actually believes that? Well that’s fine he has the right to believe it if he wants to.

He also went on about the Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as well, which was anything but true.

He is a flipping Genius who knows all and should be worshiped, because he thinks he is a flipping Genius.   Spare me the rhetoric of the all knowing Bush.

So anyway the rest of us would believe this BS because WHY ?????????????????????????
Because we all have stupid written across out foreheads.  Right sure we do.

Bushes comments were a veiled warning to Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who are pushing for a drastic restructuring of the world’s financial regulatory systems.

Restructuring and regulations are needed for sure.

The free for all and doing anything  financial institutions want too, must come to and end.

De regulation has proved to be a total failure.

Bush knows how to drive a country into a 11 trillion dollar debt, but he certainly doesn’t know how to correct the mess he and his Administration created.

His financial advice is useless.  Listening to him on any count would be absolute foolishness.

He didn’t  run his own country with any inkling of responsibility, how on earth can he tell the rest how to run theirs?

“Free people” like Bush knows anything about that, after all he has done to oppress Americans.

He has taken away their rights on more fronts then the average Dictator.

When Bush wants to help, I advise ducking for the incoming nightmare he will create.

He has created many.

Here is a little question for you.

If you had a magical little button in front of you,

Now if you  push the little button, it would magically make Bush vanish off the planet.

Would you push it?

https://i1.wp.com/www.democraticstuff.com/v/vspfiles/photos/BT94930-2T.jpg

Japan to offer $100bn to help IMF meet funding demands

November 14, 2008

Japan is preparing to offer $100 billion (£68.3 billion) of its foreign exchange reserves to bolster the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) coffers, government sources have told The Times.

Senior government sources in Tokyo added that Japan’s proposals at today’s Group of 20 industrialised and emerging nations meeting in Washington could go beyond the huge financial endowment to the IMF and would seek to make Taro Aso, Japan’s Prime Minister, the “Gordon Brown of Asia”.

Among Mr Aso’s reading material for the 11-hour flight to the US capital, is a proposal from within his own party that suggests establishing a vast “World Stabilisation Fund” that would invite contributions from forex reserves held by governments everywhere.

Kotaro Tamura, a ruling party MP, said: “By showing that Japan is taking a lead in saving the world and by becoming more aggressive in offering solutions to the financial crisis, Mr Aso could be a star – he would be respected like Gordon Brown.”

The immediate Japanese offer to the IMF, expected to be unveiled today in Washington, is designed to increase substantially the IMF’s ability to lend to emerging economies savaged by the global financial crisis.

Countries in Eastern Europe have already been forced to accept loans from the IMF, but economists are giving warning that the risk of meltdown could soon emerge in Asia. Japan is already the second-largest donor to the IMF, and has the world’s second-

largest coffer of foreign reserves – some $980 billion.

Mr Aso, will announce the offer at today’s G20 meeting, but government sources say that he will “gauge the mood of international co-operation” before suggesting any further measures.

Finance ministry sources confirmed that Mr Aso was “preparing to demonstrate Japan’s commitment to global financial stability through its foreign reserve strength”, and that “the ability of the IMF to lend aggressively through this crisis must be a priority”.

Although details of the plan have not been widely disclosed throughout the Government, it is understood that the reserves – already mostly held in the form of US Treasuries – would be offered as collateral for the IMF as it attempted to raise funds as emergency needs arise.

Japan is proposing to lend about 10 per cent of its reserves to ensure that the IMF is itself able to meet its funding demands.

However, the loan will need to be structured carefully, said Japanese government sources, so that the facility does not actually lead to a sell-off of US Treasuries in an already unstable market.

The Japanese Government is privately hoping that its actions will prompt other nations with hefty foreign reserves to make similar offers to the IMF, though it is likely to stop short of making an explicit demand that others follow suit.

China, with even larger reserves than Japan, is viewed as a likely candidate to provide collateral, as are Middle Eastern oil producers.

Source

Japan Bailing out the IMF Alrighty then.

One thing leads to another and another:

  1. So now countries have to bailout the IMF
  2. Who is bailing out countries
  3. Who need bailouts
  4. To bailed out their banks
  5. Who need bailouts
  6. Because of the US mess.

How interesting it all is.

Before you know it the Countries who Bailed out the IMF will need bailouts to pay for the money given to the IMF for Bailouts.

So who will be left to Bail them out I wonder?

Japan should just cut out the middle man and bailout the countries on it’s own.

That would save money in the end I am sure.  Middle men always have to get a cut out of any transaction.

Iceland’s rescue package flounders

By David Ibison in Stockholm

November 12 2008

An international bail-out of crisis-hit Iceland appeared to be unravelling last night as the International Monetary Fund withheld official backing for the $6bn plan. Iceland has also been left with a $500m shortfall in the funds for the plan that it had hoped to raise from other international donors.

Iceland agreed a $2.1bn (€1.7bn, £1.4bn) loan with the IMF on October 24 that was due to be approved by its board last Tuesday but which was delayed until the following Friday, postponed again to Monday and has now been put back to an unknown date.

IMF approval is crucial as Sweden, Denmark and Norway have said they will only offer loans to Iceland once the IMF package and an associated economic stabilisation plan have been agreed by its board.

The delay at the IMF’s head office comes at the same time as Iceland has failed to raise the full sum it needs to stabilise its economy. A government official said: “There is a $500m gap.”

There are deep suspicions in Iceland that the UK government has put pressure on the IMF to delay the loan until a dispute over the compensation Iceland owes savers in Icesave, one of its collapsed banks, is resolved.

Össur Skarphédinsson, acting foreign minister and ministry for industry, told the Financial Times: “I spoke to representatives of the UK who said that before they could assist us they would have to have clarity on other outstanding issues. I was left in no doubt what they were talking about.”

No explanation for the delay has been provided by the IMF and Gordon Brown, prime minister, said yesterday that he supported the IMF loan.

A government spokesman said London had “in no way blocked the IMF’s loan to Iceland. In fact the UK government fully supports the IMF’s loan and looks forward to a swift resolution of this issue”.

However, Wouter Bos, Dutch finance minister, suggested there was a link between the IMF plan and compensation disputes with Iceland, which also involve the Netherlands. He told Dutch television that The Hague would oppose the IMF plan until their compensation dispute was resolved. “Luckily we have powerful allies as Britain and Germany have the same problem with Iceland,” he is reported to have said.

Iceland is seeking to make up the $500m shortfall with a loan from the US, Japan, Russia or China, but has not had a response to its appeal for help, the official said.

The IMF delay and the failure to raise the necessary funds has left Iceland unable to boost its foreign exchange reserves and unable to re-float its currency, undermining international confidence in its struggling economy after its banking system collapsed last month.

“Iceland is stuck in limbo. It clearly needs a new monetary and exchange rate framework, but it needs the IMF for that,” said Paul Rawkins, senior director at Fitch Ratings, the credit rating agency.

Source

Has IMF Not Received Formal Request from Iceland?

November 11 2008

The Swiss representative on the board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) claims the board has not received any formal request of assistance from Iceland, known as a letter of intent. Iceland’s Prime Minister says such a letter was sent one week ago.

“To this date, no formal request [from Iceland] has been received by the fund’s board,” the Swiss representative on the IMF board, Thomas Moser, wrote to Fréttabladid in an email yesterday, adding that Switzerland is generally positive towards assisting Iceland.

Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde told Fréttabladid that a letter of intent, signed by Iceland’s Minister of Finance Árni M. Mathiesen and Central Bank governor and chairman Davíd Oddsson, was sent to the IMF on November 3.

“I don’t know how this could be. There must be some kind of an in-house system which controls what documents are sent with express delivery to the board,” Haarde said, adding that the IMF is a large and unwieldy institution.


Haarde said that since the letter of intent was sent, Icelandic authorities have been expecting their request to be discussed by the board.

Icelandic authorities suspect that their dispute with Britain and the Netherlands in regards to the Icesave deposits may be the cause of the delay, although they are not certain of the matter. Haarde requests an explanation from the IMF board as to why Iceland’s letter of intent has not been discussed yet.

IMF’s decision on Iceland’s application for an emergency stabilization program has been postponed thrice, as reported yesterday.

Acting Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson told RÚV that he is certain that British authorities were causing the delay. British authorities however claim that they support Iceland’s application from a loan from the IMF wholeheartedly.

A spokesperson from the British Chancellery, who was not named, told ruv.is, that Iceland could on the other hand not expect special treatment from the IMF. The fund’s regulations are very clear and state that applicants must have reached an agreement with their loan granters.

Fréttabladid reports that the agreement between Iceland and an the IMF which was presented in late October has at least 30 items, the 19th of which was increasing the policy rate to 18 percent, according to an announcement from the Central Bank.

Source

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 6:37 am  Comments Off on Iceland’s rescue package flounders  
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Russia says IMF inadequate

November 10 2008

Russia’s finance minister reiterated Moscow’s call for reforming global financial institutions, saying in comments televised Monday that the International Monetary Fund was inadequate as a crisis manager.

Alexei Kudrin spoke ahead of a meeting of top international financial ministers Saturday in Washington to discuss the deepening global crisis.

Russia has proposed creating new international agencies to replace or take on some of the functions of existing ones, like the IMF or the World Bank. Moscow has said those organizations do not adequately represent some of the larger economies such as China and Russia.

“We are absolutely sure that today the current system of institutions used for crisis settlement, including the IMF, are inadequate,” said Kudrin in comments on the state-funded English language network Russia Today.

Kudrin called for a new agreement along the lines of the Maastricht Treaty, the 1992 treaty that paved the way for the euro, that would obligate nations to meet a certain set of budget and economic criteria in order to prevent new crises.

Russia has been hard hit by the global crisis, with economic growth forecasts slashed and its stock markets losing some two-thirds of their value since the start of the year.

The Kremlin has laid the bulk of the blame with the United States.

On Friday, a top Kremlin aide suggested the IMF’s role be reduced to that of an ordinary financial institution.

“The IMF should work as a bank, not as a project finance institution. It should not act as a manager in countries it lends to,” Arkady Dvorkovich told a news conference. “It should put forward financial conditions on loans, not political ones.”

Source

Well it seems this treaty didn’t exactly prevent the Financial Crisis.
But for what it’s worth. Take a look.

Maastricht Treaty

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 7:52 am  Comments Off on Russia says IMF inadequate  
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In Pakistan -Sherpao seeks parliamentary debate on IMF loan issue

November 10 2008

PESHAWAR: Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao (PPP-S) Chairman Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said on Sunday that International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan issue should be debated at length in Parliament before taking loan from the IMF.

Addressing a press conference at his Peshawar residence after a party meeting, Sherpao said that economic crisis had further worsened due to deteriorating law and order situation in the country, necessitating an in-depth discussion in Parliament on the IMF loan before the government took a final decision on taking loan from the IMF.

The PPP-S leader said Pakistan should give a befitting replying to those attacking sovereignty, integrity and solidarity of the country. Sherpao demanded that 14-point resolution passed by Parliament after a joint in-camera session should be implemented.

Though the whole world is facing financial crisis, Pakistan is suffering from the worst one than other countries, Sherpao said.

He said that he was not invited to Pak-Afghan Jirga held recently in Islamabad. However, he added, such jirgas were useful for both the countries. He said more jirgas should be held to restore peace in the region.

Earlier, the PPP-S meeting condemned US missile attacks on the Pakistani territory, including Waziristan. staff report

Source

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 5:57 am  Comments Off on In Pakistan -Sherpao seeks parliamentary debate on IMF loan issue  
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Dutch, British block IMF loan to Iceland – NRC


November 7 2008

The Netherlands and Britain are blocking a €2.1bn loan from the International Monetary Fund to Iceland pending agreement on compensation for Dutch and British savers, the NRC reports on Friday.

The paper says Icelandic MPs were told at a meeting in Brussels that the loan would not be approved until the financial aspects of compensating hundreds of thousands of savers has been worked out.

Sources at the Dutch finance ministry have confirmed the veto off the record but refuse to comment officially. Nor would British officials comment, the paper says.

Yesterday, Iceland’s prime minister Geir Haarde said that the IMF loan and the repayment agreement were ‘two separate issues which should not be linked,’ the paper said.

Dutch savers have some €1.6bn on deposit at Icesave which they cannot access.

Meanwhile, the conflict between the government, the province of Noord-Holland and 22 local councils over their claims against Iceland escalated on Friday. In total, local governments have some €400m in Icesave.

Finance mnister Wouter Bos and the queen’s commissioner in Noord-Holland have been embroiled in a public spat over the province’s determination to go it alone in trying to recover its money.

On Friday home affairs minister Guusje ter Horst said the government had used a royal decree to annul local government claims to Landsbanki property abroad. ‘Their behaviour is hindering the difficult and complex discussions with the Icelandic government,’ she said.

Source

Maybe Iceland should just declare bankruptcy.

Seems all the way around things just are getting more ridiculous.

All the banks have being going through the same thing but it seems Iceland is really being hung out to dry.

Of course I have little or no trust when it comes to the IMF at any rate.

Maybe not getting a loan from them is a “good thing”.

There certainly seems to be a lot of manipulation going on when it comes to Iceland.

A few tid bits.

Iceland to Receive Unexpected Loan from Poland

Norwegian loan to Iceland confirmed

Iceland lifts interest rates to record 18% to secure IMF $2bn loan

Iceland Registers Complaint about Britain to NATO

Unbowed Icelandic PM sends a strong message to UK

Iceland ‘working day and night’

UK Government ‘ignored Iceland warning’/ Charities may lose

The worst of all was being treated as a Terrorist country.

Browns actions have not helped in any way.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has condemned Iceland’

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 5:17 am  Comments Off on Dutch, British block IMF loan to Iceland – NRC  
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Latvia mulling IMF loan as crisis sweeps Nordic region

November 9 2008

Latvia has been forced to bail out its second largest bank over the weekend and may soon need a rescue by the International Monetary Fund as the financial crisis engulfs the Baltic region, and much of Scandinanvia.

Premier Ivars Godmanis stunned the country by announcing that Parex banka had been half-nationalised in an attempt to head off a serious crisis in the face of escalating capital flight from the country.

“We have to do everything to avoid trouble, not only for specific banks, but for the banking system as a whole,” he said.

Mr Godmanis said Latvia was examining a raft of measures to rescue the economy, including possible aid from the IMF and European Union. Iceland, Hungary, and Ukraine have already obtained loans for the IMF.  Iceland awaits IMF decision on Monday

Latvia is facing a brutal recession after years of torrid credit growth and one of the most extreme property bubbles in Eastern Europe. The economy contracted by 4.2pc in the third quarter.

House prices have fallen 21pc over the last year, according to Global Property Guide. The swing from boom to bust has been made worse by heavy use of mortgages in euros, Swiss francs, and yen.

The rating agencies have rushed through a spate of downgrades in recent days for the Baltic trio of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, warning that heavily reliance on short-term foreign funding has left them dangerously exposed to the global squeeze.

“If the situation were to worsen, Latvia could be forced to seek balance-of-payments support from the EU or the International Monetary Fund,” said Kenneth Orchard, senior analyst at Moody’s

“The global liquidity crisis will probably cause a shock to the Latvian banking system, which will reverberate throughout the rest of the economy. Unless there are major improvements in the European syndicated loan market by early 2009, the government will be forced to take remedial action.”

Oskars Firmanus, head of the Latvian consultancy Paus Konsults, said the Parex rescue had badly shaken depositors in Riga. “It has come as a big surprise. The bank has been very secretive and did not tell anybody there was a problem. People have been lining on the streets over the weekends trying to get their money out of ATM machines,” he said.

Swedish banks have large exposure to the Baltic market, adding to their woes as the industrial downturn hits Scandinavia.

The IMF warned in a recent report that the Baltic operations of Stockholm’s banks “could cause a credit crunch in Sweden itself” if the closure of the wholesale capital markets continues for much longer. Total lending to Eastern Europe by Swedish banks is equal to 25pc of the country’s GDP.

Swedbank dominates lending in Latvia and Estonia, while SEB is the biggest lender to Lithuania. The share price of the two banks have fallen by 70pc from their peak.

Source

Check November Index For all IMF Loans

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 4:22 am  Comments Off on Latvia mulling IMF loan as crisis sweeps Nordic region  
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Iceland to Receive Unexpected Loan from Poland

November 7 2008

Polish authorities will participate in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic stabilization program for Iceland, which has yet to be accepted by the IMF board, by granting Iceland a USD 200 million (EUR 155 million) loan.

This was confirmed by Magdalena Kobos, a spokesperson from the Polish Ministry of Finance, to Bloomberg news agency.

According to Bloomberg, Iceland is likely to receive an IMF-led emergency loan of around USD 6 billion (EUR 4.7 billion). In addition to Poland, the Scandinavian countries, Britain and the Netherlands will participate in granting the loan to Iceland.

According to late-breaking news from visir.is, Icelandic Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde announced at a governmental meeting this morning that he had not been made aware of Poland’s intentions to offer Iceland a USD 200 million loan.

Source

Published in: on November 8, 2008 at 3:13 am  Comments Off on Iceland to Receive Unexpected Loan from Poland  
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Barack Obama: Hope for America, but maybe not for the world?

November 7 2008

Barack Obama has run perhaps the best organized and most inspiring of presidential campaigns in US political history. He has risen above sleazy political tactics, challenged stereotypes, eschewed divisiveness, focused on issues that are important to Americans, and maintained his poise and principles in the face of tremendous pressure from his opponents. It has been truly awe-inspiring and admirable.

There is little wonder that almost 53% of American voters and perhaps a larger percentage of the world population have found themselves strongly attracted to Barack Obama. He has become a shining beacon of “hope” and “change” for a country in a crisis of self-confidence, and a world participating vicariously through the blown up “reality-TV” of American presidential elections.

Without taking anything away from the greatness of Obama’s achievement, and the historical importance of this event for American culture and identity, I feel constrained to point out that those who think an Obama presidency will improve the way that the United States has been engaging with the world may need to take a reality-check.

I say this as one who instinctively likes Barack Obama, has tremendous respect and admiration for him, shares with him the same alma mater, has close friends and relatives all across the United States, and has followed the campaign speeches, events and reporting on the US election with pathological interest.

I am addressing this article only to those who are already aware of the many ways in which the United States has been uniquely responsible for undermining international law, stability, peace and prosperity in the World. Those who are offended that I could even make such a suggestion should investigate elsewhere, and read no further.

The insight I share is a simple one: nothing that Barack Obama has done or promised gives rise to the “hope” that an Obama presidency will usher in the “change we need” in the world. The gloomy conclusion comes from asking a series of questions, and for each one recognizing the answer to be “no he won’t”:

  1. Will president Obama allow the United States to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC)? The ICC is the preeminent global mechanism for holding egregious human rights violators to account, when they are able to escape being held to account by national jurisdictions. It is a mechanism championed by Europe and enthusiastically adopted by much of the world, but almost fatally undermined by the United States formal renouncing in 2002, and keeping a clutch of countries that depend on US support away from it – Sri Lanka being amongst that number.
  2. Will president Obama bring the United States into the Kyoto protocol or at least an equivalent and sufficient compact on responding to Global Warming? The United States with less than four percent of the global population is responsible for more a quarter of the annual emissions that cause global warming – by far the highest per-capita pollution rate. The negative consequences of Global warming will be borne disproportionately by the poor of the world who have benefited the least from the industrial activities over the last hundred years that have brought about the problem.
  3. Will president Obama bring the United States back in to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia, or an acceptable equivalent? President George Bush in 2002 withdrew the US from the 1972 ABM treaty, because Russia could no longer compete in the arms race. This withdrawal from the treaty and subsequent plans for missile deployments in countries close to Russia has been the principal reason for souring relations with Moscow. It has begun a new version of the cold war, with attendant threats to the security of the world. (Georgia being the first bit of grass to get trampled as the Elephants position them-selves in the fight).
  4. Will president Obama reverse the longstanding US policy of blindly supporting Israel as it continues to deny the people of Palestine a just return of their lands and the right to a dignified existence in their own territory? Israel routinely receives upwards of 2 billion dollars in military aid alone from the US each year (together with about another one billion in non-military aid, Israel receives one sixth of the US foreign aid budget each year), and at the U.N. Security Council the US routinely exercises its veto power in favour of Israel anytime the rest of the world tries to even voice their concern about the injustice. This unprincipled support has been the chief recruiting sergeant in the Middle East for Al Qaida-style organizations, which are undermining stability and peace in the world.
  5. Will president Obama choke off the still strong political and military support by the US for the utterly corrupt, repressive, authoritarian Saudi Arabian regime? The Saudi regime is amongst the most corrupt and repressive in the world. That regime and US support for it remains the second most important driver of Al Qaida recruitment. It monopolises the massive wealth from oil revenues for the aggrandizement of a small circle of family, friends, and multinational oil companies, denying much of the local population even a semblance of fair share and perpetuates that injustice by repressive laws, restricted freedoms and denial of democracy.
  6. Will president Obama after closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp (even McCain would) apologise and pay compensation to those who can’t be charged — the large number of innocent people yanked in there by mercenary schemes, tortured, and denied any semblance of justice for now almost 7 years? Guantanamo Bay prison has — in large screen technicolour, brazenly and shamelessly — flouted numerous international covenants on civil, political and human rights. Since it’s inception in January 2002, Guantanamo Bay prison has shown the middle finger to the universal values of civilised cultures and made these values seem cheap, subservient, and disposable when inconvenient. Such an iconic prison camp that ends with unrepentant impunity will have terribly undermined the power of these values to shape the world.
  7. Will president Obama change the US position in 2001, when it became the only country to oppose the international UN treaty on curbing the flow of small arms? This treaty – spearheaded by Sri Lankan Jayantha Dhanapala, then under-secretary-general to Kofi Anan – aimed to provide some simple global standards and tracing methods to curtail the illicit flow of small arms in the world (much of them manufactured and sold by the US). These weapons expand the power of organized crime, fuel militia gangs, arm child soldiers (including those of the LTTE in Sri Lanka), and are estimated by the UN to kill at least half a million people each year.
  8. Will president Obama withdraw US intransigence at World Trade talks (which have been failing to reach consensus since the Doha round in 2001)? The US (which together with the EU spends more than 100 billion dollars per year on farm subsidies) wants to continue denying farmers from poor countries the same access to the markets of very rich nations, as has been secured for multinationals from those countries into the markets of the poor? Even the global western institutions such as the IMF and World Bank admit openly that this lack of symmetry in trade access is one of the principle causes of poverty in the African continent, the poorest region of the world.

I have considered here only a few of the burning questions of the world. I think they highlight the bleakness of this grand “change” in America, in terms of having a positive effect on the way that American power is wielded in the world. With a George Bush presidency, there was at least no illusion about the selfish abuse of military and institutional power by the United States. An Obama presidency that continues these wolfish tendencies in sheep’s clothing will not make the world a better place.

The election of Barack Obama is shrouded in the illusion that US engagement in the world will now be moral and benevolent. But the time for that has not yet arrived, and is not likely to arrive until US economic and military power diminishes more significantly. For those who were listening, Barack Obama has in fact been threatening the world, by the trade, military and foreign policy positions that he has articulated consistently throughout his campaign – and there is no reason to think he didn’t mean what he said.

Has Barack Obama offered “hope” for Americans? Resoundingly “Yes!” But the hope that President Obama offers Americans is not hope for the world.

Source

Can he stop the war mongering that has become embedded in America?

Can he eliminate the corruption in the American political system?
The American self serving agenda has seeped into every corner of the world. Whether is be Free Trade or the Financial Crisis.  It has seeped into the IMF and World Bank. It has slithered into every aspect of the planet. Corporations are as corrupt as the MOB. They hold too much power over Governments and people.

Free Trade agreements, the IMF and World Bank help promote their agenda of cheap slave labour,  massive profits and the ability to pollute world wide. They promote privatization of services such as water, education and health care. This all for profit and to the demise of the people.  Oddly enough the because of the Financial Crisis many countries have had to borrow money from the IMF and World Bank and are now at the mercy of their dictatorial agenda.

They of course are apparently seen as the good guys helping out those poor countries in need,  when in fact they are just as usual, promoting more  privatization of their resources. How sweet it is to be in their grasp. Well for the corporations that is, not for the people of the country that had to borrow money. I bet their Cooperate mouths are just watering at the prospect of more profits, at the expense of the countries who were forced to turn to the IMF and World Banks.

Farmers in India who have committed suicide or lost their farms may have something to say about the IMF loan given to India. They sure helped them now didn’t they? The International Monetary Fund was promoting an agenda all right. A corporate agenda, not that of “actually helping the country or it’s people”.

Iceland had to raise their Interest rates to a whopping 18 percent, while the rest of the institutions are lowering them. That was one of the stipulations in the IMF loan, they will receive from the IMF. There is something fishy in that, isn’t there? Gorden Brown treating them as a terrorist is just way out there.  There certainly is something rather strange about it all. One has to wonder what the true agenda is?

A few years back it was well known what was going on. Africa is one of the victims. A classic example of IMF and World Bank pretending to be nice.

A little History Lesson on The World Bank and IMF in Africa

The US Government can whine all they want, they don’t have money for Health Care and Social programs but in fact, if the War machine were ended they would have enough and more to lift many out of poverty and fund social programs.
The total of America’s military bases in other people’s countries in 2005, according to official sources, was 737.

The 612 billion war budget is not necessary either.

Instead they have working toward World Domination via  Military Dominance, Free Trade agreements, IMF and the World Bank.  They have pandered to Corperate Greed and Profiteering.  Which in the end causes more poverty, more pollution, more war, more corruption, more death,  more cheap slave labour, more profiteering for the greedy and more hatred towards the United States of America.

NATO and the United Nations have done little to stop the Fascist Agenda.  If anything they have enabled the US.

Should they end the Aid to Israel ? Well much of the aid is earmarked for weapons for one and it destabilizes the Middle East.

Can Obama sort through all of this and find ways to improve the life of US Citizens and the rest of the World?

Sure he could.  It will take time and political will.

Will he and the Government of the US do anything is another story.

The rest of the world also needs to work with Obama to end the War Machine and Cooperate Corruption however.

The Enablers around the world, must also make it clear their agenda of World Domination must end.

Enough is Enough.

If the leaders in the World are to promote anything is should be to improve the lives of it’s citizens,  not the profiteers and war mongers.

Cleaning up the media that sifts out “propaganda” to the American public would also go a long way to helping as well. The American people have the right to know the truth. So does the rest of the world.

The propaganda machine has worked it’s way into much of the media around the world as well.

People want the “truth” not “propaganda” and “lies”.







The World Bank and IMF in Africa

A little History

The World Bank and IMF in Africa

August 2008

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are two of the most powerful international financial institutions in the world. They are the major sources of lending to African countries, and use the loans they provide as leverage to prescribe policies and dictate major changes in the economies of these countries. The World Bank is the largest public development institution in the world, lending over $24 billion in 2007 – of which over $5 billion (or 22 percent) went to Africa.

The World Bank and IMF are controlled by the world’s richest countries, particularly the U.S., which is the main shareholder in both institutions. The World Bank, headquartered in Washington, DC, follows a “one dollar, one vote” system whereby members with the greatest financial contributions have the greatest say in decision making. The U.S. holds roughly 17% of the vote in the World Bank and the 48 sub-Saharan African countries together have less than 9% of the votes. The Group of 7 rich countries (G-7) control 45% of World Bank votes. This system ensures that the World Bank and IMF act in the interest of the rich countries, promoting a model of economic growth (called neo-liberal) that benefits the richest countries and the international private sector.

Over the past two decades, the poorest countries in the world have had to turn increasingly to the World Bank and IMF for financial assistance, because their impoverishment has made it impossible for them to borrow elsewhere. The World Bank and IMF attach strict conditions to their loans, which give them great control over borrower governments. On average, low-income countries are subject to as many as 67 conditions per World Bank loan. African countries, in need of new loans, have had no choice but to accept these conditions.

The World Bank and IMF have forced African countries to adopt “structural adjustment programs” (SAP) and other measures which cut back government spending on basic services. They have required African governments to reduce trade barriers and open their markets, maintaining their economies as sources of cheap raw materials and cheap labor for multinational corporations.

As a result of World Bank and IMF policies, average incomes in Africa have declined, and the continent’s poverty has increased. Africa’s debt crisis has worsened over the past two decades, as the failure of World Bank and IMF intervention has left African countries more dependent than ever on new loans. These institutions have also undermined Africa’s health through the policies they have imposed. Forced cutbacks in spending on health care, and the privatization of basic services, have left Africa’s people more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other poverty-related diseases.

The policies of the World Bank and IMF have come increasingly under fire, for the negative impact they have had on African countries. But these institutions, and the U.S. and other wealthy countries that control them, refuse to address these concerns. Instead, they continue to use Africa’s debt as leverage to maintain control over the economic policies of African countries. Even as Africa faces the worst health crisis in human history, these institutions insist that debt repayments take priority over spending on the fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS. African countries continue to spend up to five times more on debt servicing than on health care for their populations.

In response to growing criticism of their policies, the IMF and World Bank have continuously repackaged their structural adjustment programs over the last two decades. In 1999, the institutions began a funding system that requires a country to create a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which purports to outline programs that will promote growth and reduce poverty over the next several years. Through the Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF), which disburses funds, the World Bank and IMF approve and then finance these poverty reduction programs. While the World Bank and IMF claim that this allows greater flexibility for countries receiving assistance, the degree of ownership that countries have in PRSPs is exaggerated. Parliaments and civil society are often excluded from developing and adopting PRSPs.

In 2005, the IMF created the Policy Support Instrument (PSI). PSIs do not provide financial assistance to the countries that choose to participate. Rather, the IMF provides economic policy advice to a country, and then monitors it to determine whether or not the country has earned the IMF’s endorsement. Creditors and donors can then base their decision to offer loans or grants to a country on the IMF’s PSI assessment. In practice, this program continues to enforce IMF economic reforms and compromise the ability of African governments to decide on their development path.

To address the external debt crisis of poor countries, the IMF and World Bank introduced the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative in September 1996. Designed by creditors, this initiative was intended to extract the maximum in debt repayments from poor countries. It has failed even to meet its stated objective of reducing Africa’s debt burden to a “sustainable” level, and the strict HIPC eligibility requirements prevent many countries from receiving much-needed assistance.

In July 2005, the Group of 8 (G-8) proposed a debt cancellation deal for 18 countries, 14 of which are in Africa. That September, the World Bank and IMF approved this deal through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). The MDRI grants debt cancellation to countries that meet certain eligibility requirements, including adherence to economic policies and programs that the World Bank and IMF deem satisfactory. As of December 2007, the World Bank and IMF have approved MDRI debt relief for 25 countries, 19 of which are in Africa. Although the MDRI provides some progress on the issue of debt, it still leaves many African countries trapped under the burden of illegitimate debt. Furthermore, it establishes the precedent that future debt cancellation will only be offered to countries that have submitted their economies to the draconian dictates of the World Bank and IMF’s structural adjustment policies.

The benefits of debt cancellation have been proven repeatedly. While in 2003, Zambia was forced to spend twice as much on debt payments as on health care, partial debt cancellation allowed the government to grant free basic healthcare to its population in 2006. In Benin, more than half of the money saved through debt cancellation has been spent on health. In Tanzania, the newly available funds were used to eliminate primary school fees, increasing attendance by two-thirds. Uganda is currently using the $57.9 million of savings it gained from debt relief in 2006 to improve primary education, energy and water infrastructure, malaria control, and healthcare. Cameroon is using its $29.8 million in savings for poverty reduction, infrastructure improvement, and governance reforms.

Since 2007, there has been talk of the IMF selling its gold reserves to offset its growing administrative budget deficits. In order for the IMF to sell any part of its gold reserves, the sale must be approved by an 85% majority of its members. The United States controls about 17% of this vote, giving it an effective veto over this action. In February 2008, the U.S. Treasury announced that it would support the sale if the IMF takes part in a package of reforms that would put more emphasis on surveillance and financial stability and less on lending.

By law, however, the U.S. Congress must authorize the sale of IMF gold before the U.S. Executive Director may support such a decision. This puts Congress in a unique position to greatly influence the future actions and operations of the IMF. In contrast with Treasury’s modest reform proposal, Congress could seize this opportunity and condition its approval of the IMF’s gold sales on a bold reform agenda that eliminates IMF policies that have restricted investments in health, education and HIV/AIDS spending. Specifically, gold sales should be approved only if the IMF ceases use of overly restrictive deficit-reduction and inflation-reduction targets, eliminates budget ceilings for the health and education sectors and de-links debt cancellation from such harmful macroeconomic conditions. Gold sales could also be used to finance expanded debt cancellation.

African countries must have the power to shape their own economic policies and to determine their own development priorities. This requires the cancellation of all of Africa’s illegitimate external debts, and an immediate end to the harmful policies the World Bank and IMF have imposed in Africa.

Source

South Africa: IMF Can Only Bring Misery

by Trevor Ngwane and George DorThe Sowetan
July 12 2000

Last Friday, Horst Koehler, newly-appointed head of the International Monetary Fund, received a hostile response from the anti-privatisation forum, Jubilee 2000, the campaign against neoliberalism and the South African Communist Party. We are trained to be hospitable in the African tradition, but this was a fair exception.

The Anti-Privatisation Forum includes two campaigns. The first is the anti-Igoli Forum which opposes Johannesburg’s “iGoli 2002” plan to privatise our city. The second is the Wits University Crisis Committee, which opposes a similar strategy, “Wits 2001,” which has led to massive job losses and the decline of arts education at South Africa’s main university.

The campaigns oppose the privatisation of social goods, like water and education, that in a just society should be under the control of communities, workers and students. The unity of our struggles is all the more urgent in view of this week’s Urban Futures Conference, at which the powers behind iGoli 2002 and Wits 2001 are hoping to showcase the sale of our city and our university.

If Horst Koehler thought his visit to South Africa would be widely applauded, he should know that workers, community activists and students in Johannesburg have been protesting his institution for many years.

The last such visit by an IMF leader was in October 1996, when Michel Camdessus came to meet workers, community activists and students, as requested by finance minister Trevor Manuel. But our leadership in Cosatu, Sanco and Sasco boycotted the meeting on grounds that the IMF would do harm to South Africa.

The subsequent events in East Asia, which shamed Camdessus, proved that a firm stand against the IMF was correct. We know that firsthand in our country and our continent, where for more than two decades people have suffered immensely, due to IMF interference.

The IMF made billions of dollars of loans to apartheid South Africa during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Our allies in the Jubilee 2000 South Africa movement have demanded that these loans, which were repaid by South African society during one of the most repressive, bloody periods in our history, now in turn be the basis for reparations by the IMF to a democratic South Africa.

During the late 1980s, when the apartheid regime began to sell state assets to white-owned conglomerates and raised interest rates to the highest levels in our history, the IMF was prodding it to do so. The IMF consistently argued that South African workers were overpaid, and that South Africa should implement a Value Added Tax to shift the burden of tax payment further to lower-income people. The apartheid regime generally followed this advice and was applauded by the IMF for doing so.

In December 1993, the IMF granted a US $750 million loan (about R5,1 billion) which was purportedly for drought relief. Actually, the drought had ended eighteen months earlier. The loan carried conditions such as a lowered budget deficit to prevent a new government spending more on social programmes, and lower wages for civil servants. These conditions have subsequently become government policy in the form of Gear. The loan was a secret agreement, only leaked to the business press in March 1994.

Again and again in Southern Africa and across the Third World the IMF’s free-market economic advice and conditions on loans have been disastrous. These disasters have led to a profound crisis of legitimacy for the Washington institution. Former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote in the April 2000 New Republic magazine that the IMF is populated by “third-rate economists.”

One reason for the IMF’s crisis of legitimacy is the control exercised by the US government. This power is based on ownership of 18% of the IMF’s shares, enough to veto anything the US disagrees with.

The IMF remains a profoundly undemocratic institution, whose economic policies have been roundly condemned for the misery caused throughout the Third World and especially in East Asia, Russia and Latin America when “emerging market crises” occurred during 1997-99.

The IMF’s fraternal institution, the World Bank, has had an especially obnoxious role in Johannesburg. Bank staff were responsible for a 1995 infrastructure policy which recommended low standards and high prices for household water and electricity, even though the Reconstruction and Development Programme mandated the opposite. Bank staff recommended that low-income households be not given flush toilets but instead use pit-latrines, without considering the public health risks of excrement leaking into Johannesburg’s water table through its dolomitic rock.

When a similar scheme was established in Winterveld in 1991, hundreds of people got cholera as a result.

The Bank also promoted privatisation of municipal services across the country. In Johannesburg, it took the lead on research to promote a one-sided, pro-corporate perspective on iGoli 2002. It is no wonder that the Johannesburg privatisation plan has been renamed “E.Coli 2002”.

For all these reasons, the visit of Horst Koehler and the ongoing role played by the World Bank in Johannesburg represent very serious dangers to poor and working-class people and the environment.

When 30,000 people joined in protest against these institutions, in their hometown Washington DC in April, it was clear they were not listening to us but we all are surprised by how quickly they have followed us back to Johannesburg to do their damage. They must not be allowed to arrange the junk-sale of our university, our city, our country and our continent.

Trevor Ngwane is a Johannesburg councillor and Wits master’s degree student, while George Dor is chairman of the campaign against neoliberalism in South Afric. Both are affiliated to the Alternative Information and Development Centre in Johannesburg.

Source

Is Africa being bullied into growing GM crops?

David Fig

27 June 2007

Africa must not let multinational corporations and international donors dictate its biotechnology agenda, says David Fig.

Africa is rapidly becoming a focal point for multinational crop and chemical corporations clearing the way for the extended uptake of their products and technologies. In particular, African governments are facing enormous pressure to endorse and adopt genetically modified (GM) crops.

Organisations like the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa — bankrolled by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations — are partly to blame through their heavy investment in infrastructure aimed at supporting the development and distribution of GM crops and seeds.

But the African Union (AU) itself is now also encouraging the adoption of GM technology. Working in tandem with its development wing, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the AU’s High Level Panel on Modern Biotechnology is soon to release a Freedom to Innovate plan — the clearest expression yet of the trend to back this controversial and risky technology. And it does so uncritically, rather than taking a more rational precautionary position that would safeguard Africa’s rich biodiversity and agriculture.

The AU is also engaged in efforts to revise the carefully crafted African Model Law on Biosafety, which outlines the biosafety provisions necessary for African environmental conditions.

The revisions emanate from those seeking to make the biosafety content less stringent, placing Africa under even more pressure to conform to the needs of the gene corporations.

Saying no to the GM bandwagon

Support for GM technology, though, is by no means universal across the continent. The AU’s efforts in shaping the Freedom to Innovate plan and model law contrast with the leadership role that the Africa Group took in developing the Cartagena Protocol to ensure more stringent biosafety precautions.

Indeed, a number of African governments and civil society organisations are increasingly speaking out against the pressures from gene companies — and the foundations that back them — to adopt their technologies.

For example Angola, Sudan and Zambia have resisted pressure to accept GM food aid, while nongovernmental groups such as the African Biodiversity Network, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, defend community and farmers’ rights to reject GM seed. At one stage Burkina Faso implemented a moratorium on the planting of GM crops.

The Freedom to Innovate document does little justice to the debate raging around Africa. Instead it seeks to institutionalise the pro-GM position of larger countries like Nigeria and South Africa for the entire continent.

Offering unbiased advice

There is no question that Africa needs technology to develop. But it must be appropriate to a country’s chosen path of development.

New technologies aimed at development must be evaluated in depth by, among others, scientists with no vested interests.

Natural scientists must assess GM technology’s likely impacts on both the environment and human and animal health. Social scientists must also examine the potential socio-economic consequences of such innovation — such as impacts on local food security, trade or indebtedness. Stakeholders, including those who safeguard traditional knowledge, could further enrich such assessment by indicating proven alternatives.

This model of technological assessment could serve Africa very well. It could enable governments to formulate appropriate policies and development priorities.

Most importantly, if a technology is found to be questionable or negative in terms of its impacts — or if there are no clear development benefits to be derived from its adoption — a precautionary mechanism must exist that can delay and carefully regulate its introduction.

The freedom to choose

The Freedom to Innovate plan tries to advocate the idea that all biotechnology benefits Africa and fails to analyse the risks attached to their adoption. While some aspects of modern biotechnology might prove useful in African agriculture, this does not mean that one aspect of this — GM crops — can increase continental food security and farmer prosperity.

GM technology forces Africa into high-input, chemical-dependent agriculture which impacts on biodiversity and creates debt burdens for small farmers.

In addition, the regulatory steps required for control of GM crops are so demanding of resources that, even when other budgetary areas relating to food security may need more pressing attention, Africa is forced to prioritise their set up.

Gene corporations, together with the scientists that work for them, have invested a lot of time, effort and money in developing GM crops. Not surprisingly, they are the ones who propound the idea that transgenic crops can rescue Africa from poverty and underdevelopment.

But Africa must not let itself be bullied into accepting a technology that has yet to prove itself as appropriate for solving the continent’s hunger problems. The AU’s role should be one of providing governments with well-reasoned technological evaluation, rather than acting as a proxy for promoting a specific industry’s commercial needs.

David Fig is an independent environmental policy analyst based in Johannesburg, and a trustee of Biowatch South Africa.

Source

Africa and the IMF: In Defense of Economic Correction

August 6 1993

Regarding “To the World Bank and IMF: Africa Has Its Own Agenda” (Letters, July 1) from Hassan Sunmonu:

The writer, secretary-general of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, suggests that World Bank and IMF-supported economic adjustment programs in Africa have increased African indebtedness and poverty. This assertion flies in the face of the evidence wherever these programs have been carried out in a sustained manner.

It also ignores the fact that the pace of progress achieved has varied across countries, depending on the nature and the severity of the pre-existing economic conditions, the effects at times of unfavorable external developments (such as worsening terms of trade and drought), and domestic political realities.

Mr. Sunmonu calls on the IMF and the World Bank to abandon their “anti-people and anti-development programs,” accept the rights of all countries to formulate their own development plans, give to African governments sovereign authority over their economic policies, withdraw all experts from African central banks and finance ministries, and compensate African countries for the harm done them and write off their debts.

Such extreme views ought not to go unanswered.

IMF-supported macroeconomic and structural adjustment programs aim at helping countries attain higher growth, lower inflation and improved balance of payments and external debt positions. In most cases, the IMF is called upon for assistance when economic imbalances become very severe and growth has slackened, or even turned negative.

In assisting member countries to develop policies to restore economic health, the IMF is, together with the World Bank, helping them direct public spending away from nonessential or unproductive uses, including excessive military spending, to social, infrastructural and other priority needs. It is only through successful stabilization of their economies and determined structural adjustment – to expand supply capacities – that countries will eventually generate resources to promote development and reduce poverty, strengthen debt-servicing capacities and withstand external shocks.

Because the IMF is fully aware that adjustment policies may have temporary adverse effects on some of the poor, it is helping countries design social safety nets and otherwise formulate targeted social programs to assist the poor during periods of adjustment. It takes great care to tailor its macroeconomic policy advice to the individual needs and circumstances of each member country. At the request of several African member countries, the IMF has assigned a small number of resident representatives and technical experts in specific areas.

The IMF currently has committed more than $4 billion under its concessional loan facilities to 30 African countries. Writing off IMF loans to African countries would be counterproductive. IMF loans are drawn from a limited revolving pool of funds, and are made available temporarily to countries in balance of payments needs. If loans were written off, the pool would contract, with the risk of depriving other countries in need – many in Africa – of IMF financing.

I certainly share Mr. Sunmonu’s disappointment at the slow and uneven pace of economic progress in Africa. While those countries with records of determined implementation of strong reform policies have shown progress on growth and inflation, there is still indeed a long way to go. Far too many of the countries that have embarked on programs of economic correction have let them slip at the first hurdle.

MAMOUDOU TOURE,

Director.

African Department.

International Monetary Fund.

Washington.

Director

Source

World Bank pushes Malawi agriculture privatisation

April 5 2004

The World Bank is demanding the privatisation of the Malawian agricultural marketing board as a condition of its latest structural adjustment loan. The way the Bank has manoeuvred to persuade Malawi’s parliament to accept this shows the limits of ‘country ownership’. It also demonstrates key weaknesses in one of the World Bank and IMF’s new tools, Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA) studies which are supposed to outline likely consequences of key reforms so as to enable a better debate on policy design. A Malawian civil society campaign coalition which has mobilised against these planned reforms expressed its concern with how the World Bank and other donors have pushed their agenda on this issue “at the expense of the food security of the poor”.

The privatisation of the state marketing board in Malawi (ADMARC) has been an objective of the World Bank for 10 years. It represents a central element in an approach to agriculture that holds that full liberalisation of the sector will be best for poor women and men. This approach has been increasingly questioned in Malawi and other countries in the region, particularly in the context of the recent food crisis. Many commentators believe the full liberalisation of other elements of the agriculture sector under Bank and Fund advice was a major cause of the food crisis and the subsequent deaths in 2002.

Because of the controversy over the proposed reforms, including studies by civil society groups, the Bank agreed to commission a Poverty and Social Impact Analysis. This research showed that ADMARC’s important role in supporting the lives of poor women and men would be destroyed by privatisation. But, presumably embarrassed by the results, the Bank delayed publication of the study for two years, withholding it until just after the Malawian parliament had agreed to the reforms.

In late December 2003 legislation was rushed through a special parliamentary session turning ADMARC into a limited company, the first stage in the privatisation process. This session was boycotted by many MPs, partly because they had already expressed opposition to the privatisation of ADMARC in two previous hearings. Civil society campaigners expressed concern that ADMARC privatisation was being “used as a carrot for grants and loans”. This was borne out by the Bank’s response to the parliamentary vote, a February announcement of a new $50 million structural adjustment credit with the privatisation of ADMARC as one of its conditions.

The civil society and official impact analysis studies agreed that ADMARC is clearly in need of reform, but demonstrate that it plays a vital social role in ensuring market access for the rural poor by running subsidised markets country-wide. These markets would close under privatisation and the small and weak private sector would be unlikely to fill this gap, leaving a dangerous vacuum in service provision that directly threatens people’s livelihoods.

Civil society groups have mobilised to publicise these issues, with a major campaign during 2002 against the privatisation of ADMARC. An active media campaign resulted in a series of high-profile national debates. Parliament was closely involved, and in particular the Agriculture committee which carried out its own analysis showing the harm that privatisation would cause to the poorest.

The decision-making process and its outcome are being declared unacceptable by Malawian civil society groups. They are “demanding that any conditionality regarding ADMARC is immediately removed from the new loan” and encouraging civil society groups in other countries to take action in their support. Groups pushing the Bank to conduct Poverty and Social Impact Analyses will also need to ensure far greater control over the process of commissioning, reviewing and disseminating such studies, to ensure that they enrich debate rather than sit on shelves until the World Bank or IMF browbeat parliamentarians to accept their agendas.

Source

A few years back it was well known what was going on.

50 Years is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice

50 Years Org

Had a Call to Action for Mobilization
in Washington, DC

Reasons being:

For six decades, the World Bank and IMF have imposed policies, programs, and projects that:

  • Decimate women’s rights and devastate their lives, their families, and their communities;
  • Subjugate democratic governance and accountability to corporate profits and investment portfolios;
  • Trap countries in a cycle of indebtedness and economic domination;
  • Force governments to privatize essential services;
  • Put profits before peoples’ rights and needs;
  • Abet the devastation of the environment in the name of development and profit;
  • Institutionalize the domination of the wealthy over the impoverished – the new form of colonialism; and
  • Facilitate corporate agendas through the economic re-structuring of countries enduring conflict and occupation, such as East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

In the 60th anniversary year of the IMF and World Bank, we demand the following measures from the institutions and the governments which control them. Add your voice, endorse the demands:

  • Open all World Bank and IMF meetings to the media and the public;
  • Cancel all impoverished country debt to the World Bank and IMF, using the institutions’ own resources;
  • End all World Bank and IMF policies that hinder people’s access to food, clean water, shelter, health care, education, and right to organize. (Such “structural adjustment” policies include user fees, privatization, and economic austerity programs.);
  • Stop all World Bank support for socially and environmentally destructive projects such as oil, gas, and mining activities, and all support for projects such as dams that include forced relocation of people.

We furthermore recognize the urgency of the world’s most catastrophic health crisis, the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We assert the culpability of the international financial institutions in decimating health care systems of Global South countries, and reject the approach of fighting the pandemic with more loans and conditions from these institutions. We call on the world’s governments to best deploy their resources by fully funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. We demand the elimination of trade rules that undermine access to affordable life-saving medications.

Help end global economic injustice driven by the policies and programs of the international financial institutions!

A few Projects Related to Pollution

1. Guinea

Gold Mining and Mercury Emissions in Northern Guinea

The Project aims to reduce occupational health and environmental hazards of artisanal (small-scale) gold mining communities in northern Guinea. The total population of the area covered by the project is estimated at 150,000 of which over 40,000 people are involved every year in gold mining activities. The unregulated burning of mercury amalgam is the primary method for gold extraction. It is widely reported that this method yields 1 kg of gold for every 1.3 kg of mercury employed.

2. Guinea

Leaded Gas Phase Out Task Force

Guinea, on the Atlantic coast of Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Conakry, the capital, is a bustling, colorful and vibrant city of about 2 million struggling with the side effect of urbanization—pollution.
The lack of sewage and water treatment directly impacts human health in the city. Only a fraction of households, primarily in the wealthiest neighborhoods, have reliable access to running water at all, while well water is contaminated by bacteria and parasites. The city has no wastewater treatment facilities, and only 8% of households are connected to a piped municipal sewage system. The overwhelming majority of households have only basic latrines; in better homes, the floor is tiled and the hole is deep. As a result, diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A, poliomyelitis, typhoid, cholera, and meningitis run rampant.

Major Environmental Concerns

 Air Pollution – From leaded gasoline, automobile exhaust, traffic jams and old cars. Also from fuel sources: charcoal, plastic bags and tires used to cook, and the burning of garbage. Leads to elevated cases of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

 Water pollution – Lack of sanitation services pollutes coastal marine ecosystem, contaminates food supply , increases instance of waterborne diseases (malaria, diarrhea, hepatitis A, poliomyelitis, typhoid, skin diseases, cholera, meningitis), and renders water undrinkable.

 Lack of Infrastructure and Public Services – Residential and commercial garbage collection is just beginning to be put into place. No waste water treatment plant exists, although plans are afoot to install a sewage treatment facility in the western part of town. Human waste, when collected, is disposed of directly into the ocean or local dump.

3. Guinea

PCB Clean-up and Removal

Abandoned PCB capacitors from France, England, Germany and the US have contaminated approximately 3 acres in the center of Conakry. There have been significant observed impacts on human health and the environment because the water is entirely saturated with PCB waste. The black PCB oil runs directly through the site into a shallow channel that empties into the ocean. The site is within 100 yards of a village that relies on the water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

4. Mozambique

Center for Environmental Research and Advocacy

The capital of Mozambique, Maputo, lies on Maputo Bay. City residents rely on considerable amounts of fishery resources, both for consumption and economic reasons. Maputo Bay beaches also serve many residents and tourists as a leisure spot throughout the year. Yet despite its beauty, there is growing evidence that the waters inside the bay are polluted by untreated sewage coming from new developments in the city that are not connected to the existing sewage and drainage facility and water treatment plant.Groundwater contamination from pit latrines and storm water effluent is polluting the bay to the extent that swimming is inadvisable in all but the most distant areas of the bay. The Ministry of Health tests fecal coliform levels regularly, and there is a general ban on the consumption of shellfish from the bay.

5. Mozambique

Environmental Journalists Group

Although pollution from industry, automobiles and domestic waste continue to adversely affect the quality of life in Maputo and in Mozambique in general, the majority of the population lacks education and awareness of pollution issues and their relation to human health. A lack of public debate on the subject means a general lack of pressure on relevant institutions to act where human health is threatened by pollution contamination. The media, and especially the radio, is an important source of environmental information and education due to national coverage and transmission in local languages.

6. Mozambique

Gold Mining and Mercury Emissions in Manica, Mozambique

This project seeks to contribute to the reduction of occupational health hazards of small-scale gold miners in the Manica District of Mozambique by promoting the use of mercury retorts, while at the same time leading to overall reduction of environmental degradation in the region. Manica is a district of Mozambique in the Manica Province with a population of 155,731 people. Manica District borders with the Republic of Zimbabwe in the west, the District of Gondola in the east, the District of Barué to the north through the Pungué River, and the District of Sussundenga in the south, which is bounded by the Revué and Zonué Rivers. In the Manica District of Mozambique, more than 10,000 people are directly and indirectly involved in artisanal (small-scale) gold mining activities (garimpagem) as their main source of income.

7. Mozambique

Leaded Gas Phase Out Task Force

Mozambique, like many other developing countries, uses leaded gasoline. While the adverse health effects of lead have been well-documented and many of the world’s countries have either completely phased out use of leaded gasoline or lowered lead concentrations, Africa remains as a bastion of leaded gasoline use. The primary lead exposure pathway is via airborne lead and lead in dust and soil. In congested urban areas vehicle exhaust from leaded gasoline accounts for some 90 percent of airborne lead pollution.

8. Senegal

AfricaClean

Air pollution in Dakar, the capital, is a source of concern for local authorities. Large quantities of atmospheric pollutants emitted by vehicles are starting to pose serious environmental and public health problems, especially for the most vulnerable population (children, pregnant women, people suffering from diseases and respiratory complications such as: tuberculosis, pneumonia, cancers, bronchitis, asthmas, and allergies). Common pollutants emitted are: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and suspended particles.

9. Senegal

Baia de Hanne, Senegal

This project takes the first steps to initiate the clean up of the most polluted region of Senegal – Hann Bay. The bay wraps around the industrial zone of the city of Dakar, Senegal. It is highly populated area, with local residents bathing in the water, and numerous fishing boats along the crowded shore. Industrial pollution along the banks from 1968 – 1997 has rendered the bay exceedingly toxic. This work will fund and support a group both within the Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Environment to create a credible implementation plan that will install an industrial waste treatment plan for the factories of the Hann region. Once the effluent treatment plant is in operation, work can begin to remediate legacy contamination from historical toxins.

10. Swaziland

Bulembu Legacy Asbestos Mines

Havelock is a town on the northwest border of Swaziland and is home to one of the world’s largest asbestos mines, which is now closed. The town and mine are dominated by Bulembu, Swaziland’s highest peak. The asbestos mine in Bulembu operated from 1939 to 2001 and was closed without rehabilitation of the environment. The mine dumpsite has contaminated the Nkomazi River and poses a grave contamination risk to the multi-million dollar Maguga dam, which is about ten kilometers away. Huge fiber-rich dumps dwarf the school, which is less than 200 meters from the old mill.

11. Tanzania

ENVIPRO

EnviPro is an environmental engineering NGO working on a project in the neighborhood of Vingunguti, in Dar es Salaam, to manage waste effluent from Vingunguti Abattoir, a local slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse is dumping waste directly into the Msimbazi River, posing a significant health risk to residents of Dar es Salaam and surrounding areas, and EnviPro has designed a plan to install a wastewater treatment program for the plant.

12. Tanzania

Environmental Management Trust

Mikocheni, a neighborhood in Dar es Salaam, is home to four heavily polluted streams that run directly into the Indian Ocean. Untreated industrial and domestic waste is dumped into the waterways upstream, or into storm drains. Environmental Management Trust (EMT) is undertaking a project to monitor and stop this pollution of marine habitats and breaches. The project goals are to make wastewater treatment mandatory for all polluting industries, to stop residential houses from releasing waste from septic tanks into streams, and to ensure that sewers, storm drains and pumping stations are properly maintained to prevent leaks into the stream.

13. Tanzania

Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out, Tanzania

The government of Tanzania has developed a leaded gas phase-out action plan and it was discussed at a national stakeholders’ meeting in Dar es Salaam in September, 2003. The country’s planned phase-out of leaded gasoline is part of a larger initiative to ban the use of leaded gasoline in Sub Saharan Africa, as stated in the Dakar Declaration of 2001.

14. Tanzania

Msimbazi River Action Network

The Msimbazi River flows across a third of Dar es Salaam City and eventually discharges into the Indian Ocean. The river is an important water resource for residents of some of Dar es Salaam’s poorest neighborhoods. Residents use the water in various ways – for drinking, bathing, support for agriculture and industry, and as an environmental buffer. Nevertheless, many industries continue to pour unwanted end products from human and industrial activity into the river, threatening most of its functional benefits, and even its usefulness as an irrigation source.

The Msimbazi River Action Network (MRAN) brings together current Blacksmith partners (EMT, Envipro and LEAT) in an effort to organize clean-up and oversight activities focused on the Msimbazi River in Dar es Salaam. This network connects community and government representatives with the aim of minimizing industrial and domestic pollution sources on the river, and to protect the over 100,000 people living on the river from heavy metal contamination as well as deadly diseases such as cholera.

15. Tanzania

Pollution Prevention in Lake Victoria

The Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT) works in Mwanza and surrounding regions with community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the Mwanza City Council to identify problems and educate both polluters and victims of pollution about environmental laws. LEAT also conducts public interest litigation to force the cessation of polluting activities by both local factories and Mwanza City authorities. And LEAT works with surrounding towns and villages affected by polluting industries. Village and municipal leaders and residents have been educated about existing environmental laws used to combat environmental pollution, and they have been briefed on the Village Land Act of 1999 which stipulates rights of villagers regarding their land and other natural resource laws.

16. Zambia

Advocacy and Restoration of the Environment

Zambia is a land-locked country in Central/Southern Africa with a population of about 10 million people. About 1.25 million people inhabit the capital, Lusaka, with another 2 million in the northern Copperbelt region. Major pollution-related problems are due to mining and industrial waste. In 2001, Blacksmith Institute helped to found ARE, an NGO focusing on a heavily polluted industrial area on the Kafue River. The Kafue River, part of the Zambezi basin, is a source of potable water for over forty percent of Zambia’s population. It is also host to wildlife and birds. For decades, industries such as copper mines, metallurgical plants, textile plants, fertilizer factories, sugar processing plants, cement factories, various agricultural activities, and the Kafue Sewage Treatment Plant (KSTP) have polluted the river. Mineral deposits, chemicals, and suspended solids have led to overgrowth of aquatic weeds, choking river life. The continuous discharge of raw sewage into the Kafue River from the KSTP has contributed to the steady supply of nutrients (ortho-phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, etc.) ensuring the proliferation of various types of weeds, like the Salvina molesta, thereby causing eutrophication. Both aquatic life and human health are in danger. High incidences of environmentally mediated disease, such as gastro-enteritis, intestinal worms, and diarrhea diseases mostly in children have been reported from communities around the river and have been linked to drinking water from certain parts of the river. The raw sewer pollution of Kafue River could inadvertently lead to outbreaks of epidemics like cholera.

Bata Tannery uses various chemicals in tanning animal skins. Amongst these chemicals is chromium sulfate, which can easily be converted to either hexavalent or trivalent chromium. The effect of these chemicals on human and aquatic life is potentially lethal. Equally, the yeast production from Lee Yeast results in high concentrations of both chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the wastewater. The net effect is the reduction in the river system’s oxygen concentration, leading to toxic anaerobic conditions.

17. Zambia

Kabwe Environmental Rehabilitation Foundation

For almost a century, Kabwe, a city of 300,000 in Zambia, has been highly contaminated with lead from a government-owned lead mine and smelter, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). Although the mine has been closed since 1994, residents continue to get sick and die from the contamination due to a lack of cleanup efforts on the part of the company and the government.

Lead is one of the most potent neurotoxins known to humans. When breathed in, lead directly attacks the central nervous system. It is particularly damaging to infants and children, and can cross the mother’s placenta, putting unborn and nursing infants at risk. Yet, remarkably, the citizens of Kabwe have until recently been completely unaware that they are living in one of the most poisoned cities on earth. Blacksmith founded a local NGO, Kabwe Environmental and Rehabilitation Foundation (KERF), that has been bringing educational services to the community on how to limit exposure to lead, and nursing support for those who are ill.

18. Zambia

Kabwe Lead Mines

Kabwe, the second largest city in Zambia with a population of 300,000, is located about 130km north of the nation’s capital, Lusaka. It is one of six towns situated around the Copperbelt, once Zambia’s thriving industrial base. In 1902, rich deposits of potentially dangerous lead were discovered in the mine and smelter located in the center of the town. Ore veins with lead concentrations as high as 20 percent have been mined deep into the earth and a smelting operation was set up to process the ore. Mining and smelting operations were running almost continuously up until 1994 without the government addressing the potential danger of lead. The mine and smelter, owned by the now privatized Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines, is no longer operating but has left a city with poison and toxicity from deadly concentrations of lead in the soil and water.

During the operation there were no pollution laws regulating emissions from the mine and smelter plant. In turn, air, soil, and vegetation were all subjected to contamination, and ultimately, over some decades, millions of human lives were also affected. Some recent findings reveal the extent to which one of the most potent neurotoxins to man, lead, has affected the health of Kabwe citizens. In the U.S., normal blood levels of lead are less than10 mcg/dl (micrograms per deciliter). Symptoms of acute poisoning occur at blood levels of 20 and above, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, and leading to muscle spasms and kidney damage. Levels of over ten are considered unhealthy and levels in excess of 120 can often lead to death. In Kabwe, blood concentrations of 300 micrograms/deciliter have been recorded in children and records show average blood levels of children range between 60 and 120 mcg/dl.

Children that play in the soil and young men that scavenge the mines for scraps of metal are most susceptible to lead produced by the mine and smelter. A small waterway runs from the mine to the center of town and had been used to carry waste from the once active smelter. There is no restriction to the waterway, and in some instances local children use it for bathing. In addition to water, dry and dusty backyards of workers’ houses are a significant source of contamination for the locals. One of the most common ways that workers and residents become exposed to toxic levels of lead is through inhalation of contaminated soil ingested through the lungs.

19. Zambia

Maamba Coal Mines

The only coal mine in Zambia is located in Maamba where coal is extracted by open-pit quarrying. Since 1967 coal has been continuously produced by the Maamba Collieries in Southern Zambia near Lake Kariba. Although it has a production capacity of one million tons of coal per year, actual production is less than half this capacity.

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And this Happened in India

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

(Jamaica) IMF decimating one country after another

Once in debt you are their slaves. They go in destroy the agriculture and make your country depend on their subsidised food imports. What happens if they decide not to provide the food? Mass famine or should I say mass depopulation.

Added November 3 2009

Life and Debt is a feature-length documentary which addresses the impact of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and current globalization policies on a developing country such as Jamaica.

Life & Debt is a woven tapestry of sequences focusing on the stories of individual Jamaicans whose strategies for survival and parameters of day-to-day existence are determined by the U.S. and other foreign economic agendas. By combining traditional documentary telling with a stylized narrative framework, the complexity of international lending, structural adjustment policies and free trade will be understood in the context of the day-to-day realities of the people whose lives they impact.

4 Videos detailing the problems

Cause and affect.

Network Platform & Demands to the IMF and World Bank at 50 years is enough

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

By Andrew Malone
November 3 2008

When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it’s even WORSE than he feared.

The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbours prepared their father’s body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home.

As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India’s economic boom, they now face working as slave labour for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low.

Indian farmer

Human tragedy: A farmer and child in India’s ‘suicide belt’

Shankara, respected farmer, loving husband and father, had taken his own life. Less than 24 hours earlier, facing the loss of his land due to debt, he drank a cupful of chemical insecticide.

Unable to pay back the equivalent of two years’ earnings, he was in despair. He could see no way out.

There were still marks in the dust where he had writhed in agony. Other villagers looked on – they knew from experience that any intervention was pointless – as he lay doubled up on the ground, crying out in pain and vomiting.

Moaning, he crawled on to a bench outside his simple home 100 miles from Nagpur in central India. An hour later, he stopped making any noise. Then he stopped breathing. At 5pm on Sunday, the life of Shankara Mandaukar came to an end.

As neighbours gathered to pray outside the family home, Nirmala Mandaukar, 50, told how she rushed back from the fields to find her husband dead. ‘He was a loving and caring man,’ she said, weeping quietly.

‘But he couldn’t take any more. The mental anguish was too much. We have lost everything.’

Shankara’s crop had failed – twice. Of course, famine and pestilence are part of India’s ancient story.

But the death of this respected farmer has been blamed on something far more modern and sinister: genetically modified crops.

Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.

Prince Charles

Distressed: Prince Charles has set up charity Bhumi Vardaan Foundation to address the plight of suicide farmers

Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts – and no income.

So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.

The crisis, branded the ‘GM Genocide’ by campaigners, was highlighted recently when Prince Charles claimed that the issue of GM had become a ‘global moral question’ – and the time had come to end its unstoppable march.

Speaking by video link to a conference in the Indian capital, Delhi, he infuriated bio-tech leaders and some politicians by condemning ‘the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming… from the failure of many GM crop varieties’.

Ranged against the Prince are powerful GM lobbyists and prominent politicians, who claim that genetically modified crops have transformed Indian agriculture, providing greater yields than ever before.

The rest of the world, they insist, should embrace ‘the future’ and follow suit.

So who is telling the truth? To find out, I travelled to the ‘suicide belt’ in Maharashtra state.

What I found was deeply disturbing – and has profound implications for countries, including Britain, debating whether to allow the planting of seeds manipulated by scientists to circumvent the laws of nature.

For official figures from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture do indeed confirm that in a huge humanitarian crisis, more than 1,000 farmers kill themselves here each month.

Simple, rural people, they are dying slow, agonising deaths. Most swallow insecticide – a pricey substance they were promised they would not need when they were coerced into growing expensive GM crops.

It seems that many are massively in debt to local money-lenders, having over-borrowed to purchase GM seed.

Pro-GM experts claim that it is rural poverty, alcoholism, drought and ‘agrarian distress’ that is the real reason for the horrific toll.

But, as I discovered during a four-day journey through the epicentre of the disaster, that is not the full story.

Monsanto

Death seeds: A Greenpeace protester sprays milk-based paint on a Monsanto research soybean field near Atlantic, Iowa

In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands – only to kill themselves as well.

Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed – two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much.

She left her ten-year-old son, Rashan, in the care of relatives. ‘He cries when he thinks of his mother,’ said the dead woman’s aunt, sitting listlessly in shade near the fields.

Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds.

The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds.

But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were ‘magic seeds’ – with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects.

Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks.

The authorities had a vested interest in promoting this new biotechnology. Desperate to escape the grinding poverty of the post-independence years, the Indian government had agreed to allow new bio-tech giants, such as the U.S. market-leader Monsanto, to sell their new seed creations.

In return for allowing western companies access to the second most populated country in the world, with more than one billion people, India was granted International Monetary Fund loans in the Eighties and Nineties, helping to launch an economic revolution.

But while cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have boomed, the farmers’ lives have slid back into the dark ages.

Though areas of India planted with GM seeds have doubled in two years – up to 17 million acres – many famers have found there is a terrible price to be paid.

Far from being ‘magic seeds’, GM pest-proof ‘breeds’ of cotton have been devastated by bollworms, a voracious parasite.

Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death.

With rains failing for the past two years, many GM crops have simply withered and died, leaving the farmers with crippling debts and no means of paying them off.

Having taken loans from traditional money lenders at extortionate rates, hundreds of thousands of small farmers have faced losing their land as the expensive seeds fail, while those who could struggle on faced a fresh crisis.

When crops failed in the past, farmers could still save seeds and replant them the following year.

But with GM seeds they cannot do this. That’s because GM seeds contain so- called ‘terminator technology’, meaning that they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops do not produce viable seeds of their own.

As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds each year at the same punitive prices. For some, that means the difference between life and death.

Take the case of Suresh Bhalasa, another farmer who was cremated this week, leaving a wife and two children.

As night fell after the ceremony, and neighbours squatted outside while sacred cows were brought in from the fields, his family had no doubt that their troubles stemmed from the moment they were encouraged to buy BT Cotton, a genetically modified plant created by Monsanto.

‘We are ruined now,’ said the dead man’s 38-year-old wife. ‘We bought 100 grams of BT Cotton. Our crop failed twice. My husband had become depressed. He went out to his field, lay down in the cotton and swallowed insecticide.’

Villagers bundled him into a rickshaw and headed to hospital along rutted farm roads. ‘He cried out that he had taken the insecticide and he was sorry,’ she said, as her family and neighbours crowded into her home to pay their respects. ‘He was dead by the time they got to hospital.’

Asked if the dead man was a ‘drunkard’ or suffered from other ‘social problems’, as alleged by pro-GM officials, the quiet, dignified gathering erupted in anger. ‘No! No!’ one of the dead man’s brothers exclaimed. ‘Suresh was a good man. He sent his children to school and paid his taxes.

‘He was strangled by these magic seeds. They sell us the seeds, saying they will not need expensive pesticides but they do. We have to buy the same seeds from the same company every year. It is killing us. Please tell the world what is happening here.’

Monsanto has admitted that soaring debt was a ‘factor in this tragedy’. But pointing out that cotton production had doubled in the past seven years, a spokesman added that there are other reasons for the recent crisis, such as ‘untimely rain’ or drought, and pointed out that suicides have always been part of rural Indian life.

Officials also point to surveys saying the majority of Indian farmers want GM seeds  –  no doubt encouraged to do so by aggressive marketing tactics.

During the course of my inquiries in Maharastra, I encountered three ‘independent’ surveyors scouring villages for information about suicides. They insisted that GM seeds were only 50 per cent more expensive – and then later admitted the difference was 1,000 per cent.

(A Monsanto spokesman later insisted their seed is ‘only double’ the price of ‘official’ non-GM seed – but admitted that the difference can be vast if cheaper traditional seeds are sold by ‘unscrupulous’ merchants, who often also sell ‘fake’ GM seeds which are prone to disease.)

With rumours of imminent government compensation to stem the wave of deaths, many farmers said they were desperate for any form of assistance. ‘We just want to escape from our problems,’ one said. ‘We just want help to stop any more of us dying.’

Prince Charles is so distressed by the plight of the suicide farmers that he is setting up a charity, the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, to help those affected and promote organic Indian crops instead of GM.

India’s farmers are also starting to fight back. As well as taking GM seed distributors hostage and staging mass protests, one state government is taking legal action against Monsanto for the exorbitant costs of GM seeds.

This came too late for Shankara Mandauker, who was 80,000 rupees (about £1,000) in debt when he took his own life. ‘I told him that we can survive,’ his widow said, her children still by her side as darkness fell. ‘I told him we could find a way out. He just said it was better to die.’

But the debt does not die with her husband: unless she can find a way of paying it off, she will not be able to afford the children’s schooling. They will lose their land, joining the hordes seen begging in their thousands by the roadside throughout this vast, chaotic country.

Cruelly, it’s the young who are suffering most from the ‘GM Genocide’  –  the very generation supposed to be lifted out of a life of hardship and misery by these ‘magic seeds’.

Here in the suicide belt of India, the cost of the genetically modified future is murderously high.

Source

One suicide every 8 hours

Jaideep Hardikar

August 26, 2006

Ranjit Deshmukh / DNA
The widow and children of Loke


Vidarbha remains a grim statistic. One suicide in every eight hours. More than half of those who committed suicide were between 20 and 45, their most productive years.  The Maharashtra government says as many as 1920 farmers committed suicide between January 1, 2001 and August 19, 2006. Nearly 2.8 million of the 3.2 million cotton farmers are defaulters, reports Jaideep Hardikar

Suicide count

There are no authentic figures on the exact number of farm suicides in Vidarbha, but the Maharashtra government accepts a figure of 1920 from January 1, 2001 to August 19, 2006. The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers’ movement, puts the toll at 782 from June 1, 2005 to August 26, 2006. And, in the last three months, there has been a suicide every eight hours.

Cost of cultivation

Across the country, the average cost of cultivation in cotton is a little more than Rs 16,000 per ha. With an average productivity of 460 kg per ha, it costs between Rs 35 to Rs 48 per kg to grow cotton. In Vidarbha, the cost of cultivation could go well beyond Rs 20,000 perha and if marketing cost is added, it crosses Rs 22,000. But the productivity is only 146 kg per ha. In other words, the cost per kg is almost double — well over Rs 70 per kg. In Maharashtra, the cost of growing cotton increased from Rs 17,234/ha in 2001-02 to Rs 20,859 in 2002-03.

Right age, wrong step

Among the farmers who committed suicide in the past year, more than 50% were between 20 and 45 years of age (their most productive years), according to a study by the Sakal Newspapers Limited of the two districts, Amravati and Yavatmal.

Cotton area

The hybrid cotton covers about 73% of the cotton area in Vidarbha, whereas desi varieties cover about 27%. Most of these produce medium to medium-long fibre.

Area under Bt cotton has risen from a mere 0.4% in 2002-03 to 15% in 2005-06 in Vidarbha, according to the agriculture department statistics. Only 3% cotton land falls under assured irrigation. Cotton area has declined from 16.12 lakh ha in 2001 to 12.18 lakh ha in 2005-6. Only 3% of it is under irrigation. The shift is towards soybean.

Defaulters

The Planning Commission’s fact-finding mission members found out that nearly 2.8 million of the 3.2 million cotton farmers in Vidarbha are defaulters. Of every Rs 100 borrowed, approximately Rs 80 goes back in to servicing of old loans.

PM’s promise

The Prime Minister in his Rs 3750-crore package jacked up an additional credit flow of Rs 1200 crore taking it to Rs 2000 crore for 2006-07. But the ground situation shows a credit disbursal of less than a thousand crore.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Revive traditional crops. Pump money back into the rural economy, say experts

“In Vidharbha, it is too risky to adopt expensive technologies. Small farmers who take loans for cultivation have no capacity to meet the calamity of crop failure. Traditional crops like jowar should  again be revived. The funds allotted under the Prime Minister’s package for seed replacement should be used to promote jowar, pulses and legumes. Also, organic farming and crop-livestock integration should be promoted on both ecological and economic grounds. Vidharbha can be declared as the Organic Farming Zone of Maharashtra, so that its oranges, jowar, cotton and other crops become known as organic products and thereby gain in market value.” — MS Swaminathan Chairman, National Commission on Farmers

“It’s not true that suicides are taking place only in Vidarbha. They began in Andhra and spread to other parts of the country. But why did farmer suicides begin after 1994? The answer is we liberalised the economy and devalued our rupee. As a result, the cost of energy went up, the cost of agriculture rose and living costs soared. The 5th Pay Commission was a vindication of this. But the farmers remained in a low-cost economy. The promise that exports in a free market would bring profits to farmers was never kept. We imported 110 lakh bales from 1998 to 2004.” — Vijay Jawandhia Wardha farmers’ leader, social commentator

“The point is we need to understand that green revolution has  collapsed. Continuing suicides by farmers is a reflection of that. Suicides are more alarming in those areas where green revolution was pushed with force. But that doesn’t mean there is no agrarian crisis in other areas; it’s all over the country now. A few areas like Vidarbha are peculiar with socio-economic, agro-climatic and other factors. We borrowed a technology that did not fit into our socio-economic milieu. Tractor is today a symbol of suicides. Fertilizers and pesticides have destroyed our natural base. Farmers in Vidarbha and elsewhere are the victims of policies that have siphoned money from the rural economy.” — Devinder Sharma Former journalist, agriculture expert

Source

They have created many problems for farmers. They bully, sue and torment them.

They are one of the worst Companies imaginable.

  • Monsanto Hid PCB Pollution for Decades
  • Monsanto’s Agent Orange: The Corporation Continues to Refuse Compensation to Veterans and Families for Exposure to the Toxic Chemical
  • Taxpayers Forced to Fund Monsanto’s Poisoning of Third World
  • Monsanto’s GE Seeds are Pushing US Agriculture into Bankruptcy
  • Cotton Farmers Going Bankrupt from Monsanto’s GE Cotton
  • In order for the FDA to determine if Monsanto’s growth hormones were safe or not, Monsanto was required to submit a scientific report on that topic. Margaret Miller, one of Monsanto’s researchers put the report together.
Shortly before the report submission, Miller left Monsanto and was hired by the FDA. Her first job for the FDA was to determine whether or not to approve the report she wrote for Monsanto. In short, Monsanto approved its own report. Assisting Miller was another former Monsanto researcher, Susan Sechen. Deciding whether or not rBGH-derived milk should be labeled fell under the jurisdiction of another FDA official, Michael Taylor, who previously worked as a lawyer for Monsanto.


There is more Much more.

This just the tip of the Iceburg.  It is a very large Iceburg.

Link to above information

Ukraine may borrow $2 bln from World Bank

KIEV
November 6 2008

Ukraine could receive a $2 billion loan from the World Bank, the speaker of the country’s parliament said on Thursday.

The International Monetary Fund earlier agreed to lend Ukraine $16.5 billion.

“The ball is in Ukraine’s court now. It is up to us to decide what amount of money we should receive,” Arseniy Yatsenyuk said following meetings in Washington with the heads of both organizations.

The speaker said the funds would be used to reform Ukraine’s financial and banking sectors.

The financial crisis has seen Ukrainians rush to withdraw their savings, fearing banking collapses. More than $3 billion were pulled out of banks in October.

Ukraine’s economy has been hard hit by the global credit crunch, along with the falling price of steel, a key national export.

Last Friday, Ukraine’s parliament approved a set of measures needed to receive the IMF loan. President Viktor Yushchenko signed the bills into law on Monday.

Source


Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 9:03 pm  Comments Off on Ukraine may borrow $2 bln from World Bank  
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Foreign currency loan crux for fomer communist bloc

November 5 2008

Eastern European markets are feeling the pinch as investors pull money out of the region and local currencies plunge. Plunging domestic currencies mean higher monthly payments for businesses and households repaying foreign-denominated loans, forcing them to scale back spending.

In Budapest, project manager Imre Apostagi says the hospital upgrade he’s overseeing has stalled because his employer can’t get a foreign-currency loan.

The company borrows in foreign currencies to avoid domestic interest rates as much as double those linked to dollars, the euro and Swiss francs. Now banks are curtailing the loans as investors pull money out of eastern Europe‘s developing markets and local currencies plunge.

“There’s no money out there,” said Mr Apostagi, a project manager who asked that the medical-equipment seller he works for not be identified to avoid alarming international backers.

“We won’t collapse, but everything’s slowing to a crawl. The whole world is scared and everyone’s going a bit mad.”

Loans

Foreign-denominated loans helped fuel eastern European economies including Poland, Romania and Ukraine, funding home purchases and entrepreneurship after the region emerged from communism.

The elimination of such lending is magnifying the global credit crunch and threatening to stall the expansion of some of Europe’s fastest-growing economies.

“What has been a factor of strength in recent years has now become a social weakness,” said Tom Fallon, head of emerging markets in Paris at La Francaise des Placements, which manages $11bn.

Since the end of August, the Hungarian forint has fallen 16pc against the Swiss franc, the currency of choice for Hungarian homebuyers, and more than 8pc against the euro.

Foreign currency loans make up 62pc of all household debt in the country, up from 33pc three years ago.

Romania’s leu dropped more than 14pc against the dollar and 3.2pc against the euro.

Poland’s zloty declined more than 17pc against the dollar and 6.8pc against the euro, and Ukraine’s hryvnia plunged 22pc to the dollar and 11.5pc to the euro.

That’s even after a boost this week from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) emergency loan programme for emerging markets and the US Federal Reserve‘s decision to pump as much as $120bn into other developing countries.

The Fed said yesterday that it aims to “mitigate the spread of difficulties in obtaining US dollar funding”.

In Kiev, Ukraine, Yuriy Voloshyn, who works at a real-estate company, says he’s decided to abandon plans to buy a new television because of his dollar-based mortgage. His monthly payments have risen by 18pc, or 1,000 hryvnias (€130), since he took out the loan seven months ago.

“I only have money to pay for food and my monthly fee to the bank,” Mr Voloshyn(25) said. “I can’t even dream about anything else.”

Rafal Mrowka, a driver from Ostrow Wielkopolski in western Poland, says he became addicted to checking foreign currency rates as monthly installments on his Swiss-franc mortgage jumped 25pc.

Nervous

“I’ve even stopped getting nervous, now I can only laugh,” the 32-year-old, first-time property owner said.

The bulk of eastern Europe’s credit boom was denominated in foreign currencies because they provided for cheaper financing. For example, Hungarian consumers borrowed five times as much in foreign currencies as in forint in the three months to June.

Now banks including Munich-based Bayerische Landesbank and Austria‘s Raiffeisen International Bank Holding AG are curbing foreign-currency loans in Hungary.

In Poland, where 80pc of mortgages are denominated in Swiss francs, Bank Millennium SA, Getin Bank SA and PKO Bank Polski SA have either boosted fees or stopped lending in the currency.

The extra burden on borrowers is making a bad economic outlook worse, said Matthias Siller, who focuses on emerging markets at Baring Asset Management in London, where he manages about $4bn.

If borrowers believe local interest rates are prohibitive and foreign currency lending dries up, it means “a sharp deceleration in consumer spending,” Mr Siller said. “That will bring serious problems for the economy.”

The east has been the fastest-growing part of Europe, with Romania’s economy expanding 9.3pc in the year through June, Ukraine 6.5pc and Poland 5.8pc. The combined economy of the countries sharing the euro grew 1.4pc in the period.

Ukraine, facing financial meltdown as the hryvnia drops and prices for exports such as steel tumble, has agreed to a $16.5bn loan from the IMF while Hungary secured $26bn in loans from the IMF, the EU and the World Bank. The government forecast a 1pc economic contraction next year, the first since 1993.

The Hungarian central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by three percentage points to 11.5pc last month to defend the forint.

“Panicked customers are calling to say they’re afraid the interest on their mortgages will go up or that they won’t be able to secure mortgages,” said Nikolett Gurubi, director of lending at Otthon Centrum Belvaros, the downtown Budapest branch of a real estate agency.

“We’ve been observing a return to a good old banking rule, to lend in a currency in which people earn,” said Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, chief executive officer of Poland’s biggest lender, Bank Pekao SA.

It stopped non-zloty lending in 2003.

“Earlier, banks competed on the Swiss franc market watching only sales levels and not looking at keeping an acceptable risk level.”

The problem is a “good lesson to all of us”, Polish President Lech Kaczynski said last month at a press conference in Warsaw, where he urged Poles to stick to zloty lending.

Source

Hungary’s Letter of Intent to the IMF

BUDAPEST,

November 6 2008

Following are excerpts from the a Letter of Intent which Hungary’s central bank and government sent to the International Monetary Fund and published on the central bank’s website http://www.mnb.hu on Thursday.

‘Financial market stress in Hungary has intensified in past weeks as a result of events in global financial markets. In response, the government and the central bank of Hungary (Magyar Nemzeti Bank, MNB) have developed a comprehensive strategy to firmly anchor macroeconomic policies and reduce financial market stress. We request that the Fund support our program through a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) for a period of 17 months in the amount of SDR10.5 billion (EUR 12.5 billion). This arrangement, in conjunction with support of EUR 6.5 billion under the EU’s balance of payment financing facility and other multilateral and bilateral commitments, will signal the international community’s support for our policies.

We have discussed with IMF staff our economic program, which is outlined below. Our main objectives are to (i) reduce the government’s financing needs and improve longterm fiscal sustainability, (ii) maintain adequate capitalization of the domestic banks and liquidity in domestic financial markets, and (iii) underpin confidence and secure adequate external financing. The government is in the process of considering additional steps to improve the competitive position of the economy, which are fully consistent with the program.

‘The first review of the program will take place by February 15, 2009 and the second review by May 15, 2009. We believe that the policies set forth in this letter are adequate to achieve the objectives of our economic program, but the Government stands ready to take additional measures as appropriate to ensure the achievement of its objectives.’

FINANCING NEED

‘Gross external financing needs will decline over the course of 2009, due to the smaller fiscal and current account deficits, and will be partly covered by EU structural funds (a stable source of inflows) and already committed foreign direct investment inflows. We cautiously assume net outflows from the non-financial private sector and a reduction in the government’s net issuance of external debt. Foreign banks, however, are expected to largely maintain their exposure in Hungary (see below). At the same time, we aim to gradually increase the MNB’s foreign reserves as a precaution against unexpected outflows. The resulting external financing need of some EUR 20 billion can be covered by drawing on resources from the IMF, support under the EU’s balance of payment facility and other official creditors. Any additional support from other international financial institutions will be used to further augment our foreign reserves.

FISCAL DISCIPLINE

‘The government is committed to maintaining fiscal discipline in the long-term, recognizing that this is a key element in retaining investor confidence. We therefore intend to continue budget consolidation in the 2010 budget – to be discussed with IMF staff as part of the program – and beyond; new medium-term fiscal targets will be contained in the forthcoming convergence program and our medium-term fiscal framework. To put fiscal sustainability on a permanent footing, we have already submitted to parliament a draft fiscal responsibility law, which establishes fiscal rules on public debt and primary deficit, strengthens the medium-term expenditure framework (rolling three-year expenditure ceilings) and creates a fiscal council to provide independent and expert scrutiny. We plan to enact this law by end-December 2008 (a structural benchmark).’

FINANCIAL SECTOR POLICIES

‘The Hungarian banking system complies with regulatory capital requirements and has been profitable. Liquidity risk has recently increased due to the drop in global risk appetite which has increased banks’ funding costs and shortened maturities. However, most of the external funding comes from parent banks in the euro area, which now have access to liquidity through ECB facilities and which have pledged their continuous support of their subsidiaries in Hungary, as reaffirmed in the joint statement of MNB and leading banks in Hungary of October 17, 2008. The MNB and the HFSA will monitor this commitment closely, and provide summary information on a daily basis to IMF staff. Domestic funding has not shown any signs of stress and any stress would be contained by the liquidity facilities mentioned below. In addition, the government has not only increased the level of deposit insurance coverage of retail deposits from HUF 6 million to HUF 13 million (in line with EU agreements) but also pledged to provide a blanket guarantee on all deposits. The government stands ready to take further measures to ensure the stability of bank funding, if needed.

We have developed, in consultation with IMF staff, a comprehensive package of support measures available to all qualified domestic banks, to buttress their credibility and confirm our commitment to preserving their key role in the Hungarian economy. The domestic banks have entered this period of market stress with strong solvency positions, which they have been able to preserve so far in spite of the severity of the turmoil. We are nevertheless in the process of providing a support package in line with best practices, ensuring a level playing field within the EU. The banking sector package contains provisions for added capital and funds a guarantee fund for interbank lending. Funding will be divided as follows: Total funding of HUF 600 billion will be divided evenly between the Capital Base Enhancement Fund and a and the Refinancing Guarantee Fund. The Package is available to private Hungarian banks of systemic importance. The Capital Base Enhancement Fund has been sized to bring the eligible banks’ capital adequacy ratio (CAR) up to 14 percent. The Guarantee Fund is meant to bring comfort to the providers of wholesale funding and secure the refinancing of the eligible banks. Its endowment of HUF 300 billion will be invested in euro denominated government bonds of Euro area countries and managed by the MNB. Open for new transactions until end-2009, it will guarantee the rollover of loans and wholesale debt securities with an initial maturity of more than 3 months and up to 5 years, against a fee and with appropriate safeguards. This package should also ensure that the domestic banks remain capable of playing a responsible role vis-à-vis their foreign subsidiaries. We will submit a bill to this effect to parliament by November 10 and request an extraordinary procedure to pass the bill as soon as possible (structural performance criterion). We will monitor carefully the impact of a possible deterioration of borrowers’ capacity to repay their loans as the economy slows. Recent pressures on banks’ funding are being addressed by their management in close coordination with the HFSA and MNB. We welcome the involvement of EBRD in further strengthening the Hungarian banking system.’

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; editing by David Stamp)

Source

October 27 2008

By Krisztina Than

BUDAPEST

An IMF rescue deal steadied Hungary’s battered currency on Monday, but a downgrade in Romania’s debt rating to “junk” status showed the ripples of the global crisis were still spreading across emerging markets.

After reaching a $16.5 billion loan agreement with Kiev to shore up Ukraine’s teetering economy, the International Monetary Fund said on Sunday it would finalize a deal with Budapest in the next few days to bolster Hungary’s near-term stability.

Facing the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s, emerging Europe has watched foreign investors once bullish on the region’s prospects of strong economic growth and deeper integration into the European Union dump their assets.

In particular, there is concern that countries like Ukraine and EU members Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic states may not be able to handle their large foreign debt burdens, which could spark financial crises.

News of Hungary’s IMF deal sent the forint 2 percent higher. The currency’s almost 20 percent dive in the last month had spooked investors across the ex-communist bloc, previously seen as safer than most other emerging economies.

“The purpose … is to create a safety net for Hungary,” Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said.

Turkey’s central bank governor said he would welcome some form of arrangement with the IMF, adding to growing calls for the government to strike a deal.

Budapest turned to the IMF to shore up its markets after investors sold off Hungarian assets on worries over its banking system and the financing of its large external debt.

ROMANIAN CUT TO JUNK

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s cited just such a reason when it cut Romania’s sovereign rating to junk status on Monday and said its outlook was negative, sending the leu currency 3 percent lower to a 10-day low against the euro.

It also cut to stable from positive its outlook for Poland — where a deputy finance minister warned of capital flight on Monday from Polish units to their euro zone-based owners — due to falling international markets and tightening credit.

S&P said it had cut Romania because of mounting risks to its real economy due to rising private sector debt and a dependency on its need to borrow on increasingly uncertain foreign markets.

It said policymakers had ignored warnings and were instead focused on general elections scheduled for November 30.

The IMF did not disclose the size of its package for Hungary, but analysts said it should be over $10 billion, based on the IMF’s agreement in principle with Ukraine to a $16.5 billion standby loan, also announced on Sunday.

“The policies Hungary envisages justify an exceptional level of access to Fund resources,” IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in a statement.

Analysts said the Hungarian package could give support to the forint in the short term and would likely set conditions for the government to tighten state spending further.

“The package will be fairly large, an amount exceeding $10 billion,” said Eszter Gargyan at Citigroup. “Hopefully it will have conditions which would require structural changes to ensure a sustainable fiscal position.”

DAIMLER BOOST

Providing a shot in the arm for Hungary’s ailing economy, Germany’s Daimler signed a deal with the government to invest 800 million euros ($995.4 million) in a new plant that will produce over 100,000 compact cars a year from 2012.

Despite improved sentiment, Hungary’s debt agency scrapped a two-month T-bill auction on Monday as demand has remained low, and the stock market was down 6.9 percent.

Hungary’s government and central bank have scrambled to reassure investors that the foreign-dominated banking system is stable and have tried to jump start the all-but-frozen markets for foreign currency swaps and government bonds.

The main problem is a strong demand for FX funding, particularly in euro and Swiss francs, in the banking sector after a boom in lending to households and companies.

(Additional reporting by Sandor Peto, Gergely Szakacs, Balasz Koranyi, and Michael Winfrey in Prague)

(Writing by Krisztina Than and Michael Winfrey; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Source

Hungary to give banks $3 billion capital boost

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungarian financial authorities say they are ready to provide local banks up to 600 billion forints ($3 billion, 2.3 billion euros) to boost banks capital and help them refinance debts.

The government plans to present the package to parliament on Monday and ask for speedy approval. Half would be guarantees to help the banks refinance.

Hungary would get a stake in the banks participating in the state aid.

The aid package for banks comes as part of the $25.1 billion standby loan for Hungary announced last month by the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the World Bank.

Source

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 12:06 pm  Comments Off on Hungary’s Letter of Intent to the IMF  
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