In mid-January, 157 organisations and individuals sent a letter to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim calling for the termination of the Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture initiative (EBA, see Bulletin May 2014, Observer Autumn 2013). The initiative was launched in 2013 as Benchmarking the Business in Agriculture, inspired by the Bank’s much criticised Doing Business model (see Bulletin Sep 2014, Observer Summer 2014). According to the Bank, EBA “examines and monitors regulations that impact how markets function in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors”, however, the letter argued that “this is a dangerously misguided effort, as national policymaking should prioritise locally adapted solutions based on the experiences and demands of farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, and rural communities.” Rather than benefitting farmers, the letter concluded that the reforms promoted by EBA will instead “increase the profits of a handful of private companies.” A letter was also sent to the EBA project donors, including the UK’s Department for International Development. Moreover, US-based think-tank the Oakland Institute launched a report further outlining problems with the EBA. Frederic Mousseau of the Oakland Institute commented: “The EBA has become the latest tool to push pro-corporate agricultural policies, notably in the seed sector where it promotes industrial seeds that benefit a handful of agrochemical companies.”
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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