Activists wary of Egypt-IMF negotiations

A team from the International Monetary Fund is in Cairo this week to discuss details of a long-awaited loan package. Many voices in Egypt have opposed an IMF role, and an umbrella group of activists and political opponents is seeking to keep that opposition alive as negotiations proceed. Via BusinessWeek:

Egypt’s talks with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan should be frozen because the negotiations are secretive and lack popular support, according to a letter released by 17 political parties, civil organizations and labor groups.

The loan negotiations process has “lacked transparency” from the government and IMF, talks continue in the absence of a parliament and public consultations have been “inaccessible,” according to the letter from the Popular Campaign to Drop Egypt’s Debt, an umbrella group, and addressed to Prime Minster Hisham Qandil and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

The Popular Campaign's website is here. Their focus is on the illegitimacy of the debts incurred by the Mubarak regime:

Egypt's external debt is a direct result of Mubarak regime's failed economic policies, which resorted to external borrowing as a quick fix for complex economic problems. These problems remain unresolved until today and require alternative strategies to address them. Although Egyptians did not have a say over the need for external borrowing nor the priorities over which the loans will be spent for, they continue to suffer from Mubarak's debt burden even after his fall. It is also needless to mention that corruption has been festering all through out Mubarak's reign and in all sectors and insitutions, that it is highly expected to have inflitrated debt management as well as project implementation.

It would be interesting to know whether the campaign has linked up with international debt relief movements and with activist groups skeptical of the IMF's role.

The Multilateralist

Jim Kim returns to Haiti

This week, new World Bank president Jim Kim made his first visit to Haiti since being selected to lead the institution. Kim worked extensively on Haiti earlier in his career. The Associated Press offered this account of the trip:

It was a whirlwind tour for World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who helicoptered from the grounds of the demolished National Palace to his old stomping grounds in central Haiti where he once treated the rural poor as a doctor.

Then he flew off to visit a power plant north of Port-au-Prince and then spoke at a conference on poverty at a hotel that like the presidential palace down the hill is being rebuilt following its implosion in the 2010 earthquake.

Kim's two-day trip to Haiti was no routine drop-in for the head of an international organization. This one carried special significance for Kim, a physician and anthropologist who is regarded for his pioneering work in development because of his ties to the Boston-based Partners in Health.