IMF criticized at G-15 conference

ira ira at
Thu Feb 11 10:48:30 PST 1999

-------------- next part --------------

IMF criticized at G-15 conference

Copyright ? 1999 Nando Media Copyright ? 1999 Reuters News Service


For more information on the International Monetary Fund

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (February 10, 1999 7:51 p.m. EST - Developing countries on Wednesday urged the rich to curb their drive toward globalization and let loose with a stinging attack on the painful prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, a fierce critic of the IMF, told a summit of middle-income developing countries that outside efforts to resolve the world financial crisis were impoverishing millions and robbing Asia's once-proud tiger economies of their hard-won independence.

Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, opening the summit of the 17-nation Group of 15, said the IMF's recommendation of high interest rates for troubled countries were leading to recession and insolvency.

"The vast opportunities that emerge from the forces of globalization and liberalization are equally matched by repercussions which threaten the very economic survival of many countries within the developing world," he said.

"The pace and direction of globalization, which threaten defenseless nations and endanger millions of vulnerable people, will have to be curbed."

Delegates from the 17 countries -- Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe -- applauded both sets of comments, although Mahathir won the more enthusiastic reception.

A handful of participants gave him a standing ovation.

"The great Asian tigers are now no more," Mahathir told the delegates, who included eight prime ministers and heads of state as well as vice presidents, ministers and other senior officials.

"Reduced to whimpering and begging, they are but a shadow of their former selves... Their governments have been overthrown and their political system so undermined that they cannot govern effectively. They have to accept foreign direction of their internal affairs."

Mahathir added: "We may find our newly won independence eroded away."

The G15, holding its 9th summit in the Jamaican resort of Montego Bay, was set up to foster cooperation among developing nations and to provide input for other international groups like the World Trade Organization and the Group of Seven industrialized states.

Its members, promising to speak with a single voice at international gatherings, are determined not to be dictated to by the rich. They hope to draw up a series of recommendations to reform a flawed world financial system to cope with the economic problems which started in Asia in July 1997 and spread to Russia and then to Latin America.

"Emerging countries have been pressed to liberalize their financial markets without adequate controls," Patterson said.

"This has contributed to growing tremors in the international economic system."

But the countries in the group are a mixed bunch of large and small, including both open developing economies and those which, like Malaysia, are seeking to control the capital movements by taxing the export of investors' cash.

Brazil, struggling to recover from a deep economic crisis with the help of the IMF, is the world's eighth largest economy, according to the latest World Bank figures. Host country Jamaica is the smallest economy in the group, ranked 96th by the World Bank, whose figures refer to gross domestic product in 1996.

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list