Christian Aid says Government has not gone far enough over World Bank

Christian Aid has said that the Government did not go far enough in its pledge yesterday to withhold £50 million from the World Bank in protest at the conditions it attaches to aid for developing countries.

Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid, made his comments after representatives from the aid agency met with Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn yesterday, and as thousands of anti-poverty campaigners prepared to march on the Treasury.

Whilst Christian Aid welcomed the move, Mukarji said more pressure had to be placed on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to force them to drop the crippling conditions they attach to loans they make to poor countries.

The rally was demanding that the Government ensure both institutions stop forcing poor countries to implement controversial economic policies in return for aid.

Mr Mukarji said the World Bank and the IMF, which are still run by rich and powerful nations, were "outdated" and "not fit for purpose" in the modern world. He said fundamental reform of the way they were governed and of their mandates was needed.

"Both the Government and the public need to know that thousands of people care about poverty reduction and want the Government to take leadership. We are asking them to hold back all funding from the World Bank and the IMF," he said.

"They were created immediately after the Second World War and are now not fit for purpose. They are outdated and still governed by the rich and powerful."

Mr Mukarji said it was "unfair and scandalous" that the US was able to choose the president of the World Bank while Europe got to pick the head of the IMF. "The people who are actually being held accountable by their policies are hardly even in the decision-making process," he said.

Last year one of the successes of the Make Poverty History campaign, was that Tony Blair announced the UK would no longer force poor countries to implement controversial economic policies in return for aid.

Earlier, International Development Secretary Hilary Benn said conditions should only be attached to loans in areas such as tackling corruption and good governance. But it was "not right", he said, to impose them on economic policy choices like privatisation and trade liberalisation.

Mr Benn said the £50 million was dependent on evidence of the Bank changing the way it used conditionality in relation to economic policy. He continued: "Giving a greater voice in taking decisions about how they are going to fight poverty to developing countries when it comes to economic policy is, I think, the right approach and I hope the Bank is going to support that line and we see the evidence that in fact things are changing."

Every year the Treasury gives the World Bank and IMF £15.72 for every taxpayer in the UK.