The Challenge for International Institutions
Edited by John-ren Chen and David Sapsford
Chapter 8: Multilateral Debt Management and the Poor
Kunibert Raffer The ‘mission statement’ of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) proclaims: ‘Our dream is a world free of poverty.’ The following line asserts, ‘To ﬁght poverty with passion and professionalism for lasting results’ (IBRD, 2003a). The IMF’s homepage lists ‘Poverty Reduction’ as a special ‘Topic’. Masood Ahmed (IMF, 2003a:4), the parting Deputy Director of the Policy Development and Review Department, sees anti-poverty objectives as part of the IMF culture. Over the past three or four years there has been a much more direct focus on how the Fund can contribute to improving living standards of poor people, on how we can manage poverty and the social impact of policies that we recommend. Now most Fund mission chiefs working on low income countries think much more systematically about the impact on the poor of the policies and programs that a country is undertaking. Judging by ofﬁcial declarations, a passionate anti-poverty focus has become part and parcel of multilateral debt management. This was not always so, nor are – according to many critics – strong declarations matched by appropriate on-the-ground policies. This chapter analyses the extent to which poverty reduction has actually been reﬂected in the policies of the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs). As a background, their attitudes towards poverty before 1982 are sketched. POVERTY BEFORE 1982 Neither institution was created to ﬁght poverty in Southern countries (SCs). The words ‘and Development’ were glued onto the original name, ‘International Bank for Reconstruction’ on the insistence of participating...
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