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Increasingly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is claiming a role for itself as a central player in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and has positioned itself as an important actor on SDG 10 and tackling inequalities (economic and gender-based). However, in practice this commitment has been patchy at best, with little evidence of any meaningful policy realignment. Drawing on the examples of Egypt and Brazil, Kate Donald and Mahinour El-Badrawi, from CESR, and Grazielle David from the University of Campinas, show how IMF governance has led to deepening of social and economic inequalities, and threats to human rights enjoyment.

Paraguay has a history of “very low government revenue, generalized reluctance to pay taxes in a climate of corruption and strong opposition by enterpreneurs and high income earners to any increase in their fiscal contributions”, reports Decidamos, Campaign for Citizens' Expression.

One of the few tax increases that the public accepts are the taxes on tobacco, as they generate revenue but also address a public health problem. Yet, a proposed law to increase taxes on tobacco to 40 percent was vehemently opposed by the producers and by former president Horacio Cartes (2013-2018), who owns the biggest tobacco company in the country.

Photo: UNHCR/F.Juez

The official Lebanese VNR report of 2018 blames the Syria crisis for the economic deficits that increased the debt, as well as for economic stagnation, the doubling of unemployment and worsening poverty rates. Yet, according to the alternative civil society report by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), “this exclusively negative narrative about Syrian refugees does not distinguish between the huge impact of the Syrian crisis/war on the economy and political situation in Lebanon, and the diversified impact of the presence of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. This latter allowed financial flow of aids to increase, as well as the domestic consumption that produced around 1 -1.5 percent of GDP growth, and provided a cheap labour force that prevented the bankruptcy of many small businesses.”

Between partnerships and regulation – two diverging ways to tackle the problem at the UN

The new briefing paper “Extractive Industries and Women’s Rights: Between partnerships and regulation – two diverging ways to tackle the problem at the UN”, by Karolin Seitz and published by AWID, DAWN, Global Policy Forum and Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, presents how women are disproportionately affected by negative social and environmental impacts of extractive industries. The briefing also explains why a new partnership between UN Women and BHP Billiton, launched in June 2018, is very problematic. Similar to UN Women, other United Nations (UN) entities are trying to attract partnerships with the corporate sector. As the case of UN Women shows, potential risks and side-effects of such partnerships are often not properly addressed.

Inequality is a major concern for civil society in Bangladesh. The report by the Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh (EquityBD) quantifies rising inequalities. The Palma ratio (between the income of the richest 10% and that of the poorest 40%) grew from 1.68 in 1964 to 2.93 in 2016. Inequalities are addressed in the official plans but EquityBD considers that implementing them “will be a tough job for the Bangladesh government due to lack of good governance in some cases. The financial sector is still in a need of special attention since illicit financiale flows and huge amounts of non- performing bank loans are still in force. Decentralization of development is another crucial issue.”

The 2030 Agenda aims at “a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity…of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity”. But in what instances and in what ways is governance — as the mechanisms by which a government weighs and evaluates competing claims and chooses a path — itself a confounding factor that undermines the aspirations articulated in the 2030 Agenda?

This analysis, by Marina Lent, of the Global Policy Forum (GPF), examines the role of governance in maintaining the obvious chasm between aspiration and reality through the experience of the loss of indigenous peoples’ territories.

The UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) is in the final stages of preparing its proposals for the 2020 Comprehensive Review of the global indicator framework of the SDGs, to be submitted to the Statistical Commission by 30 November.

The IAEG-SDGs was established by the UN Statistical Commission to identify a set of indicators by which to measure progress on the SDGs. The resulting global indicator framework was debated at the Commission meeting in March 2016 and accepted subject to refinements as methodologies improved. Thereafter the framework was submitted for an extensive online consultation and the process of revising it has continued through nine biannual IAEG-SDGs meetings—attended by agencies and member states as well as civil society.

The High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development (FfD) on 26 September featured inspired discussions on combatting illicit financial flows, financing the SDGs and climate action against rising debt burdens, highlighting the need for structural, macroeconomic changes to lending and trade in order to best equip countries to achieve the SDGs. Secretary-General António Guterres noted that ‘collaboration is crucial in cracking down on tax avoidance, tax evasion, corruption and illicit financial flows that deprive developing countries of tens of billions of dollars of potential resources for their development every year’.

A debate on ‘The IMF and inequalities: tensions between structural adjustments and structural transformations’ will be held next October 17 at the IMF headquarters in Washington as a side event during the Spring meeting of the Bretton Woods institutions. A panel of civil society researchers and IMF representatives will debate around the contradictions between IMF-advised structural adjustments and the need for global socio-economic transformations. Discussants will draw on the 2019 Spotlight Report on Sustainable Development and propose ways forward for the Fund’s work to tackle inequalities and achieve the SDGs.

Women's and feminist organizations are increasingly involved in economic issues and are actively participating in global resistances that challenge the implications of financialization, the concentration of wealth, the rise of inequality and the increasing power of corporations, argues Corina Rodríguez Enríquez, from Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) in a chapter of the recently launched Spotlight report.

The advance of the women's agenda, as well as many years of advocacy work, has also permeated the agendas of multilateral institutions and the spaces of the multi-stakeholder global governance. However, both the approach that these institutions have on ‘gender issues’, as well as the space that they allow for the articulation of women’s voices are controversial and limited.

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