PRSPs just PR say civil society groups

18 June 2001

Two new civil society statements have concluded that the PRSP process is simply delivering repackaged structural adjustment programmes (SAPs). It is not delivering poverty-focused development plans and it has failed to involve civil society and parliamentarians in economic policy discussions.

A statement from thirty-nine organisations and regional networks from fifteen African countries agreed at a meeting in Kampala, Uganda, in May that PRSPs were simply window-dressing to improve the IMF and World Bank’s declining legitimacy. The content of PRSPs continues to put corporate rights before social, human and environmental rights. Rather than enable local people to decide their content, PRSPs meant more IMF and World Bank control “not only over financial and economic policies but over every aspect and detail of all our national policies and programmes”, said the statement. In particular, the participants noted that the macroeconomic programme was still not open for discussion, and that “anti-poverty programmes are expected to be consistent with the neo-liberal paradigm including privatisation, deregulation, budgetary constraints and trade and financial liberalisation. Yet these ignore the role of international/global factors and forces in creating economic crises and poverty.”

The statement details how problems with the process limit civil society participation, and notes that southern NGOs have been distracted from the task of opposing SAPs and the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Debt Initiative (HIPC). It calls for NGOs to “return to our own agendas and reinvigorate and further strengthen our engagement and work with people at the grass roots”.

A French Position Statement on PRSPs signed by nineteen NGOs in March, points to the “illusion” of ownership. The statement calls for the international financial institutions and their major shareholders to cancel poor countries’ debts, ensure the full participation of national parliaments and civil society organisations in macroeconomic reform discussions, and engage in a thorough reform of the international financial institutions.

For the Pan-African statement email AFRODAD

French NGO statement is on the French IFI campaign website or can be obtained by emailing Agir Ici