11 October 2012
Sponsors: IMF; World Bank
This townhall was for CSO representatives accredited to the Annual Meetings. The CSO Discussants made initial remarks on Fund and Bank policies and were followed by comments from Mr. Kim and Ms. Lagarde. This was then followed by a general discussion on issues of concern to CSO representatives.
Panelists: Christine Lagarde (Managing Director, IMF), Jim Yong Kim (President,WBG)
Facilitator: Mr. Katsuji Imata (Acting Secretary General for CIVICUS)
Sheila Patel, Slumdwellers International – I represent networks of people who feel disenfranchised in this world and now seek voice and agency, they can come with solutions and need to be listened to; urbanisation is fundamentally changing poverty and development, how are we going to arbitrate the inequality in urban areas?
Jim Kim, World Bank– I have always been part of civil society demanding social justice (preferential option for the poor); selection process was sudden and a surprise to me; I have been asking staff how we can change our work so that we can end poverty more quickly – there is a deep passion for fighting poverty within the Bank; multilateralism is an enormous challenge, I believe in it, we have to find a way to move forward with everyone. I have met and will continue to meet with CSOs, this is not a dance, I know that I can’t end poverty without the deep engagement of the CSOs. We understand WB can’t do things on its own anymore, we need to capture your innovations and insights from the field.
Jim Kim on urbanisation – “governance” is less our role, while we have a role to bring solutions on urban landscape improvement. As a scientist I am very concerned on climate change – we will move forward on this. I challenge you to help me think through how we bend the arc of history to end poverty sooner and make inclusive green growth a reality.
Saman Kelegama, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka – the IMF is playing a key role in the global economic recovery process but 4 key issues to flag: IMF’s engagement with CSOs needs further clarity, formality and more regularity; environment of hostility for CSOs – can the IMF emphasise the creation of enabling environment for CSOs to help accountability?; can the IMF consider expanding TA to CSOs?
Christina Lagarde, IMF – this institution is very strongly rule-based to ensure evanhandedness and keeping out bias; CSOs have been critical in our lending role particularly on our conditionality review, and on the money for PRGT from gold sales; on TA we already do some of this with civil society, we will explore what we can do further; Surveillance – we try to engage and consult with you especially on Article IV and now multilateral surveillance; the Fund endorses the principle that the financial sector must contribute more, the FTT is a good move, though we prefer a FAT.
Open questions and answers
Imata – what change can we see at IFI from your leadership for more meaningful engagement of civil society?
Largarde – many areas to see greater CSO engagement, that relationship should be a two-way street
Kim – “what will it take” campaign is an example of how we get input; WB is a rules-based organisation too and we have to be fair and the rules help us move forward; WB staff agree that we are too focussed on volume instead of results
Crystal from DR Congo – we are doing a comprehensive fiscal reform, but this hurting low-income citizens, can’t IMF and WB do more?
Ferdinand from Cote D’Ivoire – I am a pygmy from the hill region, we have restored human dignity recently; can the IMF help the pygmy population of Burundi?
Nurgel D, Krygystan – how can you facilitate growth of credit opportunities for rural women?
Abdoulai, Guinea Conarky – what can you do for youth in my country?
- Not sure about TA in DR regarding tax reform, we have expertise and can make recommendations – it needs to be efficient and redistributive/progressive; we will try to offer our services
- In Burundi – we can only intervene at the request of the country, we can do technical assistance or surveillance
- Dr. Kim should address empowerment of rural women; we only look at FSAP and can look at microcredit and transparency of financing – we look at this on a regular basis
- Involving young people is a critical question – we have a broad working group on growth and employment – macroeconomic policies are critical for growth and creating jobs.
Yumeka, Nagoya Univ – what kind of specific measures IMF can take to narrow inter-generational gap; WB please invest in youth and human capital
Pol Vandervoot, 11.11.11 – can Dr. Kim commit to no dilution of safeguards and upward harmonisation of safeguards
Jessica Evans, Human Rights Watch – Can key reforms can you do to make sure the Bank upholds human rights?
Hellemy, Egypt – while WB works to end poverty, IMF policies end up hurting the poor such as ending subsidies, why the contradiction?
- Jobs, youth and pensions are not the core expertise of the Fund, growth must be related jobs, need to push inclusive and job-rich growth; social security and pensions are important to rebalancing – countries with massive surpluses put in place social security schemes can activate consumption and growth instead of relying on exports; debt issue is intergenerational problem – this is not sustainable
- I challenge this idea that our policies make poverty worse, the bulk of subsidies benefits goes to those who need it least; all countries we advise this in there is the problem of regressive policies; the question is how you phase out subsidies and re-target the support to the poor; on currency devaluation – we try to be attentive in our programmes to social safety nets so that it can mitigate the impact on the poor
- Gender equality is now not just a phrase, we are paying attention to every loan – concretely we are doing women’s inclusion in financial services and women owned businesses issues, for example women’s cashew farming in Cote D’Ivoire we help women be more efficient and give them better access to markets.
- 25 years ago the WB was not at the forefront of climate change mitigation or women’s empowerment, but there is commitment now. We need to stop relearning that women need to be at the centre.
- Safeguards are a great accomplishment. We have absolutely no intention of diluting the safeguards. We want to move more quickly on projects, similar to how we do it on emergencies. We need to maintain commitment to safeguards but get through the process more quickly. We want the board to stop paying attention to approval and volume, we need to shift the focus to results, and reward those staff who produce results for the poor. IFC has moved in this direction and we need to move in this direction.
- I have a great respect for the work of Human Right Watch – WB doesn’t use the term “human rights” but that isn’t out of a lack of respect for the idea. Want to ensure people have the things that they have a right to. I respect Ban Ki-Moon, and we need to stop battles between multilateral agencies.
John, Ghana Universal Access to Health Campaign – 110 organisations signed this letter on universal access to health care in developing countries, for too long Bank supported user fees, what are your plans for universal healthcare?
Menaz Aziz, Pakistan – education situation in Pakistan is pretty grim, but no child should be denied this basic right, we would like a formal terms of engagement for CSOs to engage at the global level
Nanako, World Vision Japan – funding mechanisms on MDG 4 and 5, can you tell us more about it?
Haoming Huang – WB plays important role in China, lots of poor people in China, but need to consider South-South cooperation?
- I worked my entire life to increase the right to healthcare, we haven’t decided yet the mechanism for MDG 4 and 5, our recommendation is that it go through IDA where countries are in the lead. It’s a mistake to focus on access only, we must improve quality of care too and make the cost come down. Rwanda health insurance system was very successful beyond our expectations. If health care system is dependent on aid it will become very uneven – donor investment is critical, but WB task is to work on health systems. Maternal deaths are more of a logistical problem than a medical intervention problem. We need to stop focussing on “my disease” and start focussing on systems, including things like roads, blood supplies, and communications needed to tackle maternal deaths. Need to insist that different funding mechanisms for health care sit down together and write out plans for getting health systems in place. We have to remain agnostic about design as it will be different in every place, and put countries in the lead to build health systems.
- Tackling gender equality and access to education is critical, we have known this for a long time; science of learning has not penetrated deeply into educational institutions. We need to use new technologies to educate young people, we are going to move aggressively towards access to education as a first step, but then work on ensuring that children are learning.
- Working closely with IMF, but we have to do difficult things; we want to make sure health/education/social protection are provided; we have to ensure that SMSe are able to grow, especial women’s SMEs are able to grow quickly.