By Hwaa Irfan
A deep intake of breath, and somehow, is unable to exhale as the international elite’s International Monetary Fund succeeds finally in entrapping the January 25th Revolution, though one wonders how a government in transition is able to make such a commitment, yet hold back on Nile River agreements until there is an official government. Until then, hope for change seemed possible, but it seems like the kind of hope that Obama needs.
The recently agreed IMF loan of US$3bn like all IMF loans comes with conditions that usually end up impoverishing a country than enriching it. While the Europeans scramble to maintain control of their neocolonialistic enterprise, this loan ensures that Egypt maintains the very system that undermines a people’s democracy, and also has the ability to undermine the government that struggles to fulfil the conditions. It also takes the opportunity to interfere with the running of a country, the current difficulty of which is as a result of a period of transition not callous book-keeping.
Who carries the liability for a loan that ‘expects’ Egypt to change is system of subsidies, a system that has prevented the poorest from falling through the safety net, by giving cash instead of food. As the queues inside supermarkets get shorter and shorter, it would be not too long before the amount set for the price of food today will be without value by the following week, and anyone agreeing to such conditions must be desperate for trouble. In addition, the IMF expects Egypt to maintain the same free private sector market that exploits the poor and enriches the wealthy globally speaking – in other words to maintain the status quo prior to January 25th Revolution.
Egypt along with 103 other countries were full of anti-IMF and World Bank protests between 1976 – 2001 as the global south were being set up to line the pockets of the exploitative north. This trend though seemingly apart of history has not changed in terms of the outcome. The very reason for the impetus behind the January 25th Revolution has been the global monetary system in the form of the IMF and the World Bank, as highlighted by Wa’el Khalil in the Guardian:
“The IMF and the World Bank have for years been pushing the neoliberal measures implemented by Mubarak and his governments, piling praise on him for his courage and achievements.
“Year after year, the international experts would commend the Egyptian economic ‘progress’ and ‘performance’ while the majority of Egyptians watched as their lives deteriorated and their living conditions worsened…”
“Year after year, we watched how the rich and powerful got richer and even more powerful. Year after year, we waited in vain for the successive economic growth to trickle down to the poor and working masses. None was forthcoming.
“And while the IMF and similar international institutions called on Egypt to eliminate “waste and efficiencies” such as social measures or food subsidies, they maintained a polite silence on the outrageous corruption perpetrated by the country’s ruler, his family and their friends and cronies. Mubarak’s last finance minister, Youssef Boutros-Ghali, a graduate of the IMF who served as chair of its policy advisory committee, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for corruption related to improper use of cars impounded by Egypt’s customs service. Boutros-Ghali was sentenced in absentia as he was one of the few clever officials that left the country as soon as the protest that led to the bringing down of Mubarak’s regime started in January.
“I believe that this country’s future lies not with the same highly paid, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats of the IMF, nor with their sacred indicators of budget deficits and market economics. Our future lies with a new home-grown economics that caters for the majority of Egyptians, the schools where their children are educated, the hospitals where they receive healthcare, and the jobs that guarantee them decent and honourable living.”
The International Monetary and Financial Committee, IMFC, has been eager to make up lost ground as a result of the January 25th Revolution because until February 2011 it was headed by Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, who is on charges of corruption, but cannot be tried because no one knows where he is!
The ‘Arab Spring’ is Over!?
Whoever coined the term the ‘Arab Spring’, knew that spring in Arab countries are short and sweet. As imperialistic international forces attempt to bolster a dying colonialism they turn a blind eye to true sustainability by controlling and abusing God-given natural resources, and along with that, human resources. IMF is symptomatic of that abuse by entrenching a level of poverty into societies, capitalizing on the wealth of a nation for the benefit of a few.
Having no regard for the growing poor population of Tunisia, a population created by IMF policies, IMF applauded the deposed Ben ‘Ali’s application of IMF policies in 2010 as:
“… enhancing its business environment and improving the competitiveness of its economy”
“… reforms to labour market policies, the educational system, and public employment services that will serve to facilitate labour mobility”
“… reforming the social security system”
“… undertaking reforms to make the tax regime more business friendly”
“…to reduce tax rates on businesses and to offset those reductions by increasing the standard VAT rate”
Little of the above benefited the poor the least, and by the poor, we are referring to graduates leaving higher education and forced to sell vegetables as was the case of the martyr, Mohammed Bouazizi whose death ignited the Jasmine Revolution.
Just as the Egyptian “investors” have adopted the imperialist mentality of reaping off the fat of the land without taxation, and American “investors” almost bringing the U.S. government to shutdown because of refusal to pay valuable corporate tax that could benefit the respective economies, so too is IMF encouraging such rationale that fed the Asian economic crash, and the global economic crash, yet an individual who is so negligent with their personal finances will have no such reprieve!
The intentions of the international elite is loud and clear as it builds a momentum towards isolating Syria as it has done successfully with Libya. Using the mainstream media, certain NGOs and ‘activists; to portray a picture uglier than what it is. Between IMF induced anti-austerity measures, U.S. sanctions, and the U.S. financing and feeding turbulence within a country that has taken in 500,000 Palestinian refugees, and nearly two million Iraqi refugees the bubble has been inflated with contradictory forces within and without the country at play.
In the case of the Ivory Coast, the recent insistence by the international elite to have its equivalent to Yemen’s Salah, Alassane D. Ouattara, a former Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. As a rebel, Ouattara was responsible for human rights abuses, and as a former Prime Minister of Ivory Coast (1990 – 1993) he was prevented from running for presidency in 2000 because his parents are from outside the country, Burkino Faso though the facts of this is contradicted by his IMF biography. Ouattara was called in as an economist, and an unelected Prime Minister by former President Felix Houphouet Boigny who was active in several French councils, including the French National Parliament, and who for 40 years mobilized the countries resources in favour of the French, and not in the interest of Ivorians.
It was Ouattara who contracted the IMF loan for ‘structural adjustments’ and enforced it landing 27% of the countries assets under French control, along with 600 companies belonging to French businessmen. The distinction between private, public, and personal assets has been heavily questioned with an estimated U.S$22bn in capital leaving the Ivory Coast.
This is the man the international elite fought for in the name of democracy who got rid of 10,000 employees, reduced subsidies to farmers, when the West was and is subsidizing theirs, who slashed healthcare, education, and welfare budgets all of which led to mass street protests which Ouattara met with violence, including torture. Now Ivory Coast suffers Ouattara all over again with the full support of the international elite/imperialists for whom he will make richer and Ivorians poorer as of May 2011, and another IMF loan to the tune of U.S$130mn.
One can continue with a long list of examples, the resentment of which is felt deeply more by the people than those who accept the loans. If one can judge by the few examples above, it is this, the only thing that the IMF is expert at is making money, not how it should be spent, and definitely not in giving advice. The IMF cares little about the credibility of the person taking the loan, or who suffers, and is definitely not interested in a country succeeding for it is neo-colonialism in the making of a dying colonialism struggling to survive off others!
The World Bank and the IMF often attach loan conditionalities based on what is termed the ‘Washington Consensus’, focusing on liberalisation—of trade, investment and the financial sector—, deregulation and privatisation of nationalised industries. Often the conditionalities are attached without due regard for the borrower countries’ individual circumstances…” The Bretton Woods Project
Sometimes it seems like there is no justice in the world, but one Ghanaian woman who heard of the ‘troubles’ that the former head of the IMF, Strauss-Kahn was in, found that there is!
Alassane D. Ouattara. http://www.imf.org/external/np/omd/bios/ado.htm
Bond, P. “Chilling the Arab Spring.” http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/73932
Khalil, W. “Egypt’s IMF-Backed Revolution? No Thanks.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/07/egypt-imf-loan