The IMF has approved Nicaragua’s plans to fight poverty despite criticisms from local leaders. The decision will release $26.1 million of IMF loans as part of a three-year $138.3 million economic programme signed in March 1998. “In completing the full PRSP, it will be important to intensify the consultations with civil society, strengthen the underlying macroeconomic framework and further prioritize expenditure,” said IMF Deputy Managing Director Eduardo Aninat.
Local leaders are critical that participatory local processes have been ignored by the government. Last year, a local PRSP was developed by four rural municipalities in the northern part of the Leon region, with broad participation of democratically elected community leaders and representatives of local organizations. The local governments led the process, facilitated by the Danish NGO Ibis, which included several public workshops and was approved by a gathering of more than 160 community leaders and representatives of the four municipalities.
This analysis has not, however, been integrated into the process for producing the national Interim PRSP. The local government leaders sent a letter to James Wolfensohn, World Bank president, in December, raising concerns about the lack of municipal and NGO participation in the development of the Interim PRSP. The PRSP process is supposed to take place in collaboration with the Economic and Social Planning Council, CONPES, whose membership is decided by the government. “The government has not considered the amendments proposed by members of CONPES. The latest draft of the interim PRSP was developed by the Technical Secretariat of the Presidency, SETEC, in cooperation with World Bank employees. It was written in English and sent directly to Washington bypassing CONPES and not made public until weeks later” notes the letter.
“We agree with the high priority of fighting poverty,” remark the leaders, “nevertheless we are concerned because the content of the Nicaraguan interim PRSP is in our opinion nothing more than a continuation of traditional structural adjustment programmes, endowed with social funds, guaranteed by the PRGF. In other words the interim PRSP has a paternalistic character, and lacks a vision of development which in the long term could liberate Nicaragua from a dependence on foreign aid and indebtedness.”