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:

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

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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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.]

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.”

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