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The people tell IMF: time to change

The 16th April protests in Washington DC have irrevocably changed the world’s most powerful economic manipulators, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank – but how is uncertain.

Some immediate shifts are obvious, after tens of thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate against the immense power and unilateral policies of the IMF and World Bank.

International concern for their inordinate power to shape national economies has been publicly growing since the Battle of Seattle in November of last year.

In WA, we had already witnessed the IMF/World Bank’s ruthless demands on our regional neighbours Thailand, Korea and Indonesia in the Asian economic crisis, a crisis many say was actually driven by these economic dictators.

The Battle of Seattle forced world media to discuss the moral issues of one political-economic system based predominantly in one nation using its mighty powers through its IMF and World Bank to manipulate the economies of developing nations without their say, all in the name of economic progress.

Furthermore, the World Trade Organisation of G-7 nations, supported by Australia, is a key driver.

Earlier times would call this usury; the twentieth century called it good business. The twenty-first century is calling for a rethink.

In the first highly visible use of the Internet to rally people’s voices from all parts of the globe and from all stations in life, The Battle of Seattle last year opened many people’s eyes to what was actually going down globally in the name of pursuing profits.

The World Trade Organisation did not get endorsement for its Multilateral Agreement on Investment which would have given transnationals the right to pursue the making of profit within any signatory nation, regardless of the national laws limiting such endeavours, such as environmental protection and heritage laws. For example, any mining giant could mine supposedly protected Kakadu.

Seemingly urged on by big business and American interests, Australia was ready to sign.

Noisy Net outcry and marches prevailed, the MAI agenda item was dropped, the WTO was miffed and went home to Geneva to plot another course of action to fulfil their stakeholders’ needs – the pursuit of global profit.

The Battle of Seattle had blooded tens of thousands of people from developing and developed nations outside America. Aware Net list groups had continued the watch.

Polite but insistent pleas urged the IMF and World Bank to engage in wiser discussions based on long term healthy social and economic sustainability of our global economy , the triple bottom line, the honouring of self-determination and so on. To no avail.

So Washington in April witnessed, for the first time, citizens in the US joining the outcry against the structural adjustment policies and deregulatory policy package that the IMF and World Bank impose on country after country.

Basically, big time economic rape and pillage, mostly by American interests, of the very nations they allegedly are helping. Hmmm.

Watch this space for bulletins on the next round.

¶ Ann Macbeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultants.

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