News Release

Upheaval at World Bank and IMF Meetings


Reuters is reporting that “World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz on Friday called Singapore’s restrictions on the entry of activists for the World Bank/IMF meetings ‘authoritarian.'”

The news service added: “The city-state has put 27 civil rights activists on a blacklist for entry to the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, and some would-be participants to the meetings have been deported.”

Bissio is director of the Third World Network, Latin America, and of Social Watch, which will be releasing the report “Impossible Architecture” next week about International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies.

He said today: “We came to the meetings to talk about substance, but the Singapore government has prevented serious discussion by restricting people in a manner that totally violates its host country agreement. At a town hall meeting, Wolfowitz blamed it all on Singapore but said the World Bank would do nothing to remedy the situation. This was all a joke, so many of us simply walked out. The Singapore government has since removed some of the restrictions, but the damage has largely already been done.

“The World Bank is supposed to be a channel for development — to financially assist poorer countries. But it now takes out more in interest payments than it grants or lends to these countries. It’s an absurd situation.

“The IMF has imposed restrictions on countries but it’s clear that the countries that don’t follow the IMF line, like Argentina, are having the best economic growth and have lessened poverty — they have certainly done so better than those that have adopted the IMF policies, like Mexico and Brazil.”
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Tan is with Third World Network, Asia.
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Watkins is national coordinator of Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of religious, human rights, environmental, labor, and community groups working for the cancellation of debts to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Kar is the group’s communications and advocacy coordinator.

Watkins said today: “Jubilee USA Network today joined more than 160 organizations from across the globe in a boycott of official events at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings set to begin on Sunday in Singapore. While the Network had received accreditation to participate in the meetings, events of the past week in which the Singaporean government barred entry, detained or deported dozens of civil society colleagues from across the globe led to the decision not to participate.”

Watkins added: “We must wonder why the institutions sought to hold their annual meetings in a repressive state such as Singapore in the first place.”
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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