World Bank VP Calls for Redistribution of Wealth

The Anarchives (tao@lglobal.com)
Tue, 11 Jun 1996 16:18:51 +0000 (GMT)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 1996 17:22:59 +0200
From: David Fingrut live from Istanabul <hermes3@ngoforum.org.tr>
Subject: World Bank VP Calls for Redistribution of Wealth

Here's part of an inteview I conducted with the vice-president of the World
Bank, as published in 'The Home Planet', a local youth-run alternative paper
in Turkey.

PLAYING HARDBALL WITH WORLD BANK - by David Fingrut

The 1996 Habitat II Conference in Istanbul links the right to adequate
housing with issues of poverty and gender equality, along with debt relief
and sustainable economic restructuring. Currently, a major crisis is taking
place in countries such as Uganda, Bolivia, Zaire, Cameroon, Mozambique,
Nicaragua, Zambia, and Ethiopia, whose debt to the World Bank is tremendous
and debilitating.

Ismail Sergeldin, Vice President of the World Bank stated in a recent press
conference that, "we live in a world where about 700 million people go
hungry every day at a time when we have the resources and the opportunities
to abolish hunger. It is an issue of morals and an issue for social justice."

Mr. Seraldin extoled the elimination of slavery, the need to abolish world
hunger currently faced by 1/6 of humanity, especially those in dense urban
zones, and stated that "we must think in terms of social justice; that we
must find ways of tempering the ruthless effiency of the market with a
caring and nurturing solidarity in its place."

In what could easily be interpreted as a call for redistribution of wealth,
the World Bank VP mentioned how the riches 20% of the wrold receive 83% of
the world's income while the bottom 20% receive less than 1.5%, and called
on richer societies to reach out and help the majority of humanity.

Mr. Seraldin called on youth to pro-actively work to prevent the emergence
of the undercalss, teh homeless, the dispossessed, and the disenfranchised.
After committing to work with youth he again made a call for "bringing
people together" and once again for "solidarity and sense of social justice."

In light of his statemtns, I asked Mr. Serldin to comment on the role of the
World Bank in perpetuating the debt of the world's poorest countries, which
effectively keeps the majority world in a state of post-colonial slavery.
He resoponded that "there is a proposal that has been put forward before the
Council of Ministers that meets in the development committee for alleviating
debt burden of the most heavily indebted poorest countires. You may recall
that almost a year ago, there was a big leak in the press about studies
being done." Somewhat avoiding the question, Mr. Serladin continued:

"Well, I mean this sort of slowed down the studies and the consultations,
but in fact the studies have been done and discussions are ongoing between
the ministers of finance of the world and we are very hopeful that actions
will be taken to alleviate the debt of the most heavily indebted poorest
countires, both multilateral and of course bilateral as well. The specifics
of that proposal are still being discussed and I can't tell you about it but
the process is under way. We have been comitted to that and the president
of the World Bank has made that as one of his objectives."

Personally, I was quite surprised at the use of rhetoric traditionally found
within left-wing and progressive social justice movements by a leader of the
world's wealthiest financial institiutions. However, I hope we all remmber
Mr. Serladin's numerous calls for debt reduction, solidarity, and social
justice (a term he used 3 times in one speech), and especially his
commitment to work with youth when those of us from Youth for Habitat II
need funding to begin implementing our global plans of action.