Tuesday, April 24, 2007

by WEongani Mugaba

The much touted Millennium Development Goals championed by the UN, IMF and the World Bank express real passion of raising living standards of the poor, on paper that is.

The goals to eradicate extreme poverty, achieve universal primary education, achieve gender equity and women empowerment, reduce maternal deaths, combat diseases such as AIDS, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development without objections show that the Breton wood institutions and the UN have the welfare of people at heart. But not the policies they formulate and ensure our governments adopt, arbitrarily for that matter.

All the goals are far from achievement, even reduction by half and are nevertheless unknown to most ordinary citizens. I doubt if people in Nsanje Lalanje, Nathenje in Lilongwe and Mzokoto in Rumphi know these goals. That may be their own making, but the champions of the goals themselves have a very big problem.

The eighth goal as I see it is key to achieving the other goals. If we start achieving this goal, all the others will follow automatically -seek ye first and all shall be added unto you! But this goal will not be achieved, if events on the development arena are used as measures of success. The UN, IMF and World Bank are fostering for developing a global partnership for development only on paper. The IMF and World Bank are promoting policies which only lead to economic development while social development lags behind. The institutions promote privatisation so that the increased income returns trickle down to the poor. Instead, privatised companies have retrenched their workers, increased unemployment rates even though their profits have shot up.

Considering the people who buy the companies on hammer, only a few if any indigenous Malawians have bought a statutory company. This vindicates where the money goes. The income earned by the turned private companies is drained to their countries while we get poor and poorer!

Only a few days ago, the press reported that the Breton woods institutions have told, if not ordered the government not to increase civil servants salaries if the economic showers are to continue flowing. They should just provide the financial resources and ensure they are spent for the purpose transparently.

“A praise not too much” wrote D.D Phiri in the nation of 8 September 2006. Bingu has fairly done well in tightening the public pulse. Beside he knows better what it means to be in Malawi than the IMF and World Bank experts. It has been his priority to raise the salaries of civil servants. How long should civil servants wait, if they are objecting to the salary increase? And why are they not supporting the Nsanje Water way Project? What the institutions have to know is that people in the villages are expecting reduction in prices of commodities. They need food, medicines and not mere applauds that “ Malawi has successfully implemented IMF policies” without reflections on the ground.

On the international scene, Taiwan one of Malawi’s helping hands since independence is not recognised by the UN. If countries which are promoting development in TWC are left out of the world body, how can we achieve the eighth and subsequently other goals?

The UN, IMF and World Bank are intrinsically important players in the development process without doubt. We applaud some actions such as the debt cancellation, even though we may have paid dearly. They however, must stop bringing policies for our governments to implement arbitrarily. Their actions have to reflect this: otherwise, they contradict the goals they devised.
Labels: development

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