In September the World Bank released its Doing Business Indicators for 2007. Egypt wins the prize for best reformer, whilst Singapore comes top on the ease of doing business. Trade unions have strongly condemned the Bank’s assertion that elimination of workers’ protection rules creates higher economic growth and job creation. International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) point out that the indicators give better marks to countries that have deregulated labour markets, such as Haiti and Afghanistan than it does to prosperous low-unemployment economies such as Finland and Korea. General secretary Guy Ryder said “This makes a mockery of Doing Business’s claim that its ‘Employing Workers’ scores are the recipe for high-quality job creation”. ITUC’s Peter Bakvis gave testimony before an early October hearing at the US House of Congress on the topic. The House Financial Services Committee was investigating whether the the World Bank’s approach undermines the ILO standards, and representative Maxine Waters promised: “Later this year, I plan to introduce legislation to require World Bank policy reforms that would eliminate these types of economic policy conditions.”
After 4 years of on-off negotiation and public opposition, the government of Egypt has signed a loan deal with the IMF whose impacts civil society fears will encroach upon human rights, social protection and social provision, like health and education, upon which the poorest depend.
Investments by the World Bank-hosted Global Financing Facility (GFF) do not reflect the family planning priorities identified by developing countries and local communities. The GFF also continues to suffer from a lack of transparency and meaningful civil society participation, raising doubts about the new mechanism’s effectiveness.
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