Withhold funds from World Bank say campaigners

By staff writers
March 6, 2007

Campaigners across Europe are asking their governments to threaten to withhold funds from the World Bank unless specific changes are made to policy and practice.

Protesters gathered near the French Finance Ministry in Paris on Monday (5 March), to put pressure on civil servants meeting inside to discuss donor government’s contributions to World Bank’s coffers.

Sixty NGOs from 15 countries, including Christian Aid, accuse the World Bank of applying a misguided development model, undermining countries’ abilities to chart their own development paths and often contributing to worsening poverty and environmental degradation. They are urging European governments to demand that the World Bank end economic policy conditionality and phase out spending on fossil fuel operations.

Last year, Hilary Benn, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, withheld £50 million from the World Bank in protest at the economic conditions it attached to loans. He said that UK funding pledges for the next three years, which start in Paris on Monday, depend on whether the Bank undertakes genuine reform.

The World Bank later published a report in which showed it has reduced the number of conditions it attaches to loans and debt relief. Christian Aid believes this is not enough and that the Bank has to make more reforms if it is to receive fresh funding from European governments, which provide 60 per cent of its money.

Martin Gordon, Christian Aid’s international campaigns manager, said: "We cannot accept the glacial pace of change at the World Bank. It’s time for European governments to put their money where their mouth is and force the World Bank to change its lending policy."

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