From development to poverty reduction:
Radical policy changes needed to reduce poverty
Fighting poverty needs a radical change of policy, according to the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament. The current unfair and anti-democratic world trade rules must be revised and developing countries’ unbearable debt burdens should be cancelled without conditions. International financial institutions also desperately need to be democratised. Speaking today after a debate in Strasbourg on 'Africa, globalisation and poverty', Greens/EFA members of the Parliament's development committee called for the rehabilitation of sustainable development concept, which is a comprehensive approach, based on economic emancipation, social justice and democratic participation of citizens in decision-making.
French Green MEP, Marie Hélène Aubert said:
"It is regrettable that the G7's recent moves to cancel the debts of 18 developing countries were once again tied to preconditions and will have a limited impact on the countries concerned. Sub-Saharan Africa’s external debts to multilateral lenders amounted to €193bn ($231bn) in 2003. The G7 will cancel only €33bn ($40bn) of debt for the 18 countries. And those that will benefit from the measure are obliged to fulfil IMF and World Bank conditions including market liberalisation and the privatisation of certain economic sectors. Such conditions have already had a devastating impact on these countries."
"If the EU and the world's other rich countries are genuinely committed to the fight against poverty then they must cancel developing countries’ debts without preconditions. Member states’ export agencies should, furthermore, be transparent and subject to scrutiny by the European Parliament as they have contributed to the debt burden of developing countries."
German Green Frithjof Schmidt, pointed out that poverty cannot be eradicated without a comprehensive sustainable economic and social development agenda, saying:
"If the world's richest countries want to implement policies that genuinely tackle poverty then they should move from rhetoric to action and address the structural causes of poverty. The world's current free trade rules should be replaced by fair and equitable rules that take into account developing countries’ economic development constraints. All forms of export support must be abolished in order to extend developing countries’ production capacities and internal markets without jeopardising their economies with cheap imports."
"International financial institutions such as the IMF, and World Bank must put an end to the policy of making privatisation and liberalisation conditions for grants and loans. The basic rights of developing countries to democratically define their own development policies, priorities and strategies should be recognised by donor countries and international financial institutions. Moreover, these principles should prevail over trade liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation, which have devastating impact on these countries’ economic development."
Danish MEP for the Socialistisk Folkeparti, Margrete Auken added:
"Commodity price fluctuation is another area adversely affecting the livelihood of Africa’s population. Since 1996, the global prices of the main agricultural products such as coffee, cocoa, sugar and palm oil have fallen by over 60%."
"Solidarity has a price. The EU must now open up its market to the poorest developing countries in favourable conditions. Combined with debt cancellation and a substantial increase in aid budgets, this is the only way to make development sustainable in these countries."
"Donor countries must put an end to condition-based aid. This includes giving food aid and technical assistance that forces developing countries to purchase goods and services from donor countries."