Brazilian NGOs, trade unions, students and opposition parties protested outside the World Bank’s office in Brasilia against the government’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Bank’s decision to suspend loans to two state governments.
The IMF agreement requires the government to make stringent budget cuts, which have fallen on education, health, social welfare, sanitation and other areas, affecting 61% of the social sector programmes. In particular:
- resources for the 1999 budget for the Land Reform Programme and the Programme of Social Action in Sanitation have been cut by 42.6% and 73% respectively compared with the 1998 budget;
- the Program of Consolidation and Emancipation of Rural Settlements was scrapped after the entire budget was cut; and;
- 31 programs for poverty alleviation suffered cuts of about US$1 billion.
Protesters also criticised the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank for involving themselves in the country’s internal politics by suspending disbursements of approved loans for social, environmental and infrastructure projects being implemented in the two states – Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul – which are in conflict with the Federal government over loan repayments.
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