G7 rich countries urged to keep promises to poor nations

By staff writers
February 10, 2007

UK chancellor Gordon Brown and other finance ministers at the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations meeting which opened tyesterday in Essen, Germany, must fulfill their two-year-old promise to stop international financial institutions imposing damaging economic policies on developing countries, according to Christian Aid and other church-related development NGOs.

The UK-based agency says it is vital that G7 ministers should use this opportunity to deliver on their pledge to allow developing countries to "decide, plan and sequence their economic policies to fit with their own development strategies" – as agreed at the G8 meeting in 2005.

Christian Aid International Monetary Fund (IMF) policy expert Olivia McDonald explained: "In 2005, world leaders agreed to stop telling developing countries how to run their economies. This has not happened."

She continued: "The IMF and the World Bank – in which the G7 play a dominant role – continue to attach damaging economic conditions to aid which have been proven to have devastating impacts on poor people."

In a report last year, Christian Aid revealed how poor families in Bolivia were forced to spend up to a quarter of their income on water after the water system was privatised as a condition of a World Bank loan.

This week British international development secretary Hilary Benn came out against such loan conditions criticising the World Bank for tying financial support to African countries to ideologically driven economic policies such as privatisation.

Christian Aid wants to see the G8’s promise to end economic conditionality fulfilled next month (March 2007) when world leaders begin negotiating the next round of World Bank funding.

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