Initial findings of a review of adjustment policies by government, WB and civil society were presented to Bank management in Washington DC in July. However, after four years of review, the Bank appears to be trying to distance itself from the results.
When the Structural Adjustment Participatory Review Initiative (SAPRI) started its opening forum was attended by Bank President James Wolfensohn, but this time senior managers stayed away. Instead, the Bank insisted on putting out its own report, Adjustment from Within. While claiming to be based on the evidence generated from the SAPRI country studies, the Bank report does not discuss many of their most substantive criticisms. Instead the report is a retort to some of the SAPRI country findings and relies heavily on other Bank research. While recognising that lessons have been learned through the Initiative, including on the role of civil society in policy-making, and that some reforms have had negative impacts on vulnerable groups, the Bank claims that it has learned from its mistakes. “The report reflects the Bank trying to distance itself from the findings of a joint process that it was very much involved in. Rather than trying to embrace the findings, this action demonstrates that the Bank is not open to informed dialogue”, commented Doug Hellinger, SAPRI Steering Committee. The Bank has just completed an Adjustment Lending Retrospective, which also neglects most findings from SAPRI. It is currently producing an Issues Paper on Adjustment Lending Operations, which will be presented to the Board in the coming months. This will be discussed with civil society organisations before staff draft a new Operational Policy on Adjustment Lending, which is expected to tackle issues of ownership, conditionality, social impact analysis, participation and disclosure.
On 27-28 September the SAPRI Civil Society Network (SAPRIN) is planning an open global forum, which will convene civil Civil-Society Leaders from 10 countries to present these findings. A global report with recommendations for action will also be submitted to James Wolfensohn.