Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Global Protests Set At IMF / WB Annual Meet

A TOTAL of 350 organizations from 74 countries will be mounting global protests against the International Monetary Fund-World Bank during the latter's annual meetings in Singapore next month, the Jubilee South announced Tuesday.

At a press conference, Jubilee South convenor Lidy Nacpil said the twin initiatives -- the Global Actions against International Financial Institutions (IFIs) from September 14 to 20 throughout the world and the International People's Forum against IMF-WB from September 15 to 17 in Batam, Indonesia -- are demanding:

• immediate and 100 percent cancellation of multilateral debts claimed from the South without externally imposed conditions;

• open, transparent, and participatory external audit of all IFIs;

• a stop to privatization of basic services like power and water;

• a stop to funding environmentally destructive projects like dams, gas, and mining; and

• a stop to conditions that exacerbate the health crises such as requiring user fees for public education and health care services.

Nacpil admitted the difficulties in organizing protest actions in Singapore because of the city-state's strict internal security policy.

“More than the deportation is the fine,” she said, noting that in Singapore, three persons wearing the same colored shirts are considered staging a mass action.

Milo Tanchuling, convenor to the forum and secretary general of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, said local protest actions were being planned starting September 11.

“This is not because of 9/11, but because of the birthday of former dictator [Ferdinand] Marcos, whose policy of borrowing started all this,” Tanchuling said, adding that the Philippines has a standing national government debt of 3.8 trillion pesos and a public debt of 5.9 trillion pesos.

Tanchuling said 32 percent or about 300 billion pesos of the annual budget automatically goes to debt payment.

9/11 refers to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States. September 11 is also the birthday of the late Marcos, the Philippine president for at least 20 years before his ouster in 1986 by a bloodless people power revolt.

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