Monday, April 18, 2011

G-20 finance minsters meeting concludes

The finance ministers of the G-20 wrapped up meetings in Washington over the weekend. As usual, the tension between what the powerful actually work on and what they should be working on was in full display.

The G-20 announced plans to review the policies of the biggest economies to make sure they are not making the world economy unstable. The biggest target will be the undervalued Chinese Yuan.

While the G-20 focused on this, advocates for the poor tried to make their voices heard to the finance ministers. Speaking out on how the policies of the rich nations have helped to increase food and fuel prices.

From the Inter Press Service, writer Kanya D'Almeida gives us the details on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund statements that concluded the meetings.

Following a few steps behind their biggest shareholders, the Development Committee – a forum of the Bank's and Fund's board of governors – held a press conference here Saturday to brief the public about the urgent need for "change", albeit in a framework that stays staunchly loyal to economic dogma.

Stressing the need for renewed focus on rising food prices and energy volatility, Development Committee chairman and Bahraini finance minister Mohammed Al Khalifa told the press that the World Bank Group "shared concerns over the world's most vulnerable populations" who were suffering the impacts of price hikes in basic foodstuffs and bearing the brunt of "overheating".

Echoing him, World Bank president Robert Zoellick warned that 44 million people have fallen into poverty as a result of rising food prices in 2011 alone.

"A further 10 percent rise in the food price index could put 10 million more into poverty this year," he said, adding, "In revolutionary moments, status quo is not the winning hand."

Officials of international financial institutions (IFIs) have this week reinforced their ability to jump on any bandwagon that offers quick profits, no matter how inconsistent their policies are with the real revolutionary changes unfolding across the globe.

Swarms of global organisations joined hands in the last week to protest the banks' decrepit policies, struggling to make their voices heard over the din of elites in "emerging markets" claiming a bigger stake in corporate-capitalism's pie.

Oxfam International's spokesperson Max Lawson said, "Leaders today claim the food crisis is desperately urgent, so urgent they will act on it at their next meeting in June - that's 66 days away. Nearly half a million children will have died of hunger by then."

Lawson added, "The World Bank says we're one shock away from a full- blown crisis but makes no mention of the three things rich countries have done to cause it – burning food for biofuels, gambling in commodity casinos, and subsidising farmers in rich countries."

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