The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank began their annual meetings in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh on October 9. Finance ministers and central bank governors from 190 countries are in attendance, with the meetings likely to address the prevailing economic crisis. The meetings will wrap up on October 15.
Since 2020, successive economic shocks have led to the loss of $3.6 trillion of the global output, stated IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva in a speech on October 5, meant to kick off the series of meetings. Georgieva’s speech did not acknowledge the enduring role of the IMF and the World Bank in hollowing out state capacity to address socio-economic challenges. The U.S.-dominated Bretton Woods institutions have continued to push their age-old, failed policies of austerity, characterized by cuts to essential public services, subsidies, and benefits.
The IMF chief cited the energy subsidy “reform” in Nigeria as one such example of a “tough decision” in the right direction. What was not noted is the move led to fuel prices rising by almost three times in the country.
Fifty-seven percent of the world’s poorest countries, home to about 30 percent of the world’s population, will have to cut their public spending by $229 billion by 2029. Low and lower-middle-income countries will be forced to pay almost $500 million every day in interest and debt repayments from now until that year.
“The World Bank and IMF are returning to Africa for the first time in decades with the same old failed message: cut your spending, sack public service workers, and pay your debts despite the huge human costs,” said Oxfam’s interim Executive Director, Amitabh Behar. “The IMF is forcing poorer countries into a starvation diet of spending cuts, driving up inequality and suffering,” Behar added.