Limitations of Asian PRSPs revealed

25 March 2002

Asian NGOs have recently commented on the problems they face with PRSP processes in their region.

Focus on the Global South has issued a report assessing Poverty Reduction Strategy processes in Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam. Drawn from interviews with NGOs and WB missions, the report concludes that the interim PRSPs produced for these countries are not about poverty eradication. While Vietnam has been better able to direct the process, in both Lao PDR and Cambodia interim PRSPs conflict with existing medium-term development plans. The report criticises the level of participation in the drafting process. While prominent NGOs were consulted, a failure to translate the papers into either Khmer or Lao marginalised the majority of civil society actors. Focus researchers believe that the Bank is repeating errors of the past, as policy recommendations are similar to previous structural adjustment measures. The report reveals that none of the three governments had been informed of the results of the Structural Adjustment Participatory Review Initiative assessments of the impact of SAPs in their countries.

In Bangladesh, at a national convention on PRS on March 9, organized by the People’s Empowerment Trust (PET) and Action Aid Bangladesh, participants condemned the lack of transparency in the PRS drafting process. Chairperson of PET, economist MM Akash, said that the timeline set by the WB and IMF for people’s participation in the process threatened to lead to the “abandonment of the very principles of poverty reduction”.

A declaration drawn up by participants called on the WB and IMF to remove PRSP conditionality for receipt of further funds, and develop a transparent ‘route map’ to guide the process.

Focus paper