By Conor Payne
On the 12 & 13 November, the World Bank meets in Malahide in Dublin. The Irish government will no doubt pour money into hosting this summit and keeping the delegates in luxurious conditions. At the same time workers and young people need to “welcome” these representatives of big business by protesting against their summit and its agenda.
The decisions this small, unrepresentative minority make behind closed doors will affect the lives of billions, especially in the third world. This institution offers loans to some of the poorest countries, demanding in exchange that they introduce “Structural Adjustment Programs”- a fancy term for neo-liberal policies of privatisation, cuts, deregulation and elimination of protection for workers. For example, the privatisation of South Africa’s water service resulted in 10 million people who were unable to pay being cut off from their water supply.
This year the World Bank ranked Georgia as the best country in the world in the area of “employing workers”, because it passed a law allowing workers to be fired without any reason and prohibiting trade unions if they contribute to “social conflict”! Disgustingly, the World Bank, along with the IMF, has been responsible for the imposition of “user fees” within the health services of African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, which have been devastated by AIDS and poverty.
The World Bank also seeks to squeeze money for debt repayment from the neo-colonial world. The underdeveloped world pays out $13 in debt for every dollar it receives in aid, with many governments spending significantly more on debt repayment than on social services such as health and education. Roughly two thirds of the money loaned out by the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) is sent back to the World Bank in the form of debt repayment.
This neo-liberal agenda is not isolated to the neo-colonial world. In Ireland, the government is imposing extensive cuts in the health service, while providing support to private, profit-driven healthcare through its co-location scheme. Meanwhile in the workplace there is a race to the bottom underway in terms of wages and conditions. The policies of the World Bank provide no future for young people anywhere.
We live in world where half the planet’s population live on less than a dollar a day and 1.7 million children die a year as a result of poverty. Meanwhile, the 3 richest people on earth control more than the 48 poorest countries and over $1 trillion is wasted on arms every year. The massive wealth and resources of the world are concentrated in the hands of big business which runs it purely in the interests of profit, for a privileged tiny minority. The agenda of the World Bank is to deepen this situation even further. We need to protest against the World Bank and show them that their right-wing, neo-liberal agenda will not go unchallenged. At the same time we need to put forward an alternative to the capitalist profit system, a democratic socialist society where the wealth is democratically controlled by and for ordinary people rather than for the greed of a minority.
If you are interested in protesting against the World Bank then contact Cillian at 087 1274315 or 01 6772592.