News Release

As World Bank Begins Wolfowitz Era …

The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and G7 will all be meeting this weekend in Washington, D.C. The following are available for interviews:

BERNICE ROMERO
Romero is international advocacy director for Oxfam. He said today: “Since the G7 met in February, another 2 million people have died due to poverty. … As G7 finance leaders meet at the IMF and World Bank spring meetings this weekend, they must act to cancel 100 percent [of the] multilateral debt owed by the poorest countries. The IMF’s own data clearly show that selling a portion of its gold reserves to cancel poor countries’ debts is a viable option. … Currently, the world’s poorest countries spend more on debt repayments — $100 million a day — than they do on health. For the cost of a cup of coffee per person each year in a developed country, 100 percent of the poorest countries’ debts could be cancelled. Oxfam calculates it would cost just over $3 per person annually in the UK, $2.20 per person in Japan and Germany, $2.10 per Canadian citizen, $1.80 per person in France and just $1.20 per U.S. citizen, to cancel 100 percent of multilateral debt for 32 of the world’s poorest countries.”

[Photo Advisory: On Friday, April 15, at 10 a.m., in the park outside the World Bank and IMF buildings, corner of 18th and Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C., a massive 10-foot-high clock face will be placed and will be officially “turned on” to start ticking — the huge hands will symbolize that Every Second Counts — one child dies every three seconds because of poverty. People from around the world will take part.] More Information

JONAH GOKOVA
LIDY NACPIL
Gokova chairs the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development and is the 2001 Winner of the Africa Prize for Leadership. Nacpil is the International Coordinator of Jubilee South, a network of 40 debt-cancellation advocacy groups across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. She is also general secretary of the Freedom from Debt Coalition in the Philippines.
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MÔNICA DIAS MARTINS
VIRGINIA SETSHEDI
Martins is a professor of political science at the State University of Ceara, Brazil, and coordinates research on the World Bank and the nation-state. Setshedi is with the Anti-Privatization Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has been active in the movement to reconnect electricity and water when they have been disconnected for people in Soweto. Setshedi said today: “The people’s movements in South Africa that liberated the country from apartheid are now focused on the neo-liberal privatization programs pushed by the World Bank and IMF. … We are in solidarity with the movements in Africa and around the world that are turning back the profit-driven model of the World Bank and IMF, and creating real democracies that respond to the legitimate needs of the people.”

[Press Conference: “Civil Society Discusses Opportunities for Debt Cancellation through G-7 Proposals,” sponsored by Africa Action, Jubilee USA Network, and 50 Years is Enough Network, is scheduled at the National Press Club, Murrow Room, on April 14 at 1 p.m. An analysis of a leaked IMF report by finance expert Sony Kapoor [showing the feasibility of IMF gold sales to finance debt cancellation] will be released at the press conference. Copies of a letter to President George Bush and Treasury Secretary John Snow signed by hundreds of religious leaders urging debt cancellation will also be distributed.]

NEIL WATKINS
Watkins is national coordinator of Jubilee USA Network. He said today: “Last year, African nations spent more than $13 billion on debt payments to wealthy creditors including the IMF and World Bank. … Between 1970 and 2002, Africa received about $540 billion in loans and has already paid back over $550 billion to wealthy creditors such as the G7 countries, the World Bank and the IMF. But interest charges mean Africa’s debt stands at nearly $300 billion.”

STEVE HELLINGER
Hellinger is the president of Development GAP. While incoming World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz has talked much about democracy, Hellinger noted: “A lack of democracy pervades all levels of the international financial institution, from the appointment of its senior staff by the leaders of the U.S. and Europe, to the way [these institutions] work in developing countries. More than 1,000 parliamentarians from 50 parliaments around the world have signed a petition, which will be presented by 10 of their representatives to the World Bank and IMF on Friday, calling for a central role for national legislatures in the development, scrutinizing and ratifying of World Bank and IMF loan agreements.”

[There will be a meeting with the World Bank and the IMF at 1 p.m. on Friday at the World Bank’s J Building in room JB1-080. The meeting will be open to the media. There will also be an open forum on Sunday, from 2 to 4 p.m., at SAIS, 1740 Massachusetts. Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.] [On Sunday, April 17, delegates will speak at a conference on “The Bank, the Fund and Parliamentarians: Democracy Denied?” This event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies at 1740 Massachusetts Ave., Washington, D.C.] More Information
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167