Structural Adjustment: another flawed process?

17 September 2002

The World Bank has issued a discussion paper for consultation before revising its operational directive on adjustment lending (see Bretton Woods Update 29). On 18 July 2002 in London the Bank held the first of a series of consultation meetings.

At the meeting NGOs raised concerns about the consultation process. These included the timeframe of the consultation, dates and locations for the consultation meetings, ways to assess how external stakeholders’ input will be reflected in the final policy, and translation of key documents. To enable more people to comment the Bank agreed to translate the new policy once it is drafted and extend the process for a few months beyond June 2003. No significant concessions were made on the demand for independent facilitation of future consultation meetings.

The issue papers submitted for comment said the proposed policy would not feature prescriptive policies as “there is no single blueprint for reform that will work in all countries”. However the Bank will only lend to countries with an “appropriate” macroeconomic framework and an IMF programme. The new policy would not require prior poverty, social or environmental impact assessments but rely on processes such as PRSPs to ensure that the design of Bank loans is participatory.

Some NGOs are wary about engaging in this consultation process which they feel will achieve very little. Consultations will continue until the end of 2002, then a new policy will be circulated for comment with the whole exercise likely to finish by late 2003.

Notes of London consultation meeting and useful links