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UN advisor warns Africa against implementing SAPs

Nairobi - African countries were yesterday warned against blindly implementing structural adjustment programmes (SAPs).
Av Tom Mogusu | Onsdag 23. februar 2005

Article by Tom Mogusu in East African Standard (Kenya), February 23, 2005
(for ytterligere informasjon, se - Et farlig skritt bakover, RORG-Samarbeidet 21.01.05)

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the special advisor to the UN Secretary General and Director of the Millennium Development Projects (MDGs) described the SAPs as a disaster, saying they had contributed to the spread of poverty in the developing world.

Sachs said that the SAPs and liberalisation policies that were imposed on the developing world in the late 1980s and early 1990s were based on wrong fundamentals.

"You cannot prescribe belt tightening to a people who have no belts," Sachs told the National Conference for Revitalising the Agricultural Sector at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi.

President Kibaki officially opened the conference that is being attended by Cabinet ministers, representative of the private sector and agri-based institutes.

Sachs poured cold water on the policies, which he said were imposed on many countries by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Privatisation and liberalisation will not break the cycle of poverty," he said. "Poor countries need more than that. What they need are new investments in basic areas that affect the poor."

At the height of their implementation, the structural adjustment programmes became part of the conditionalities that the donor community tied to release crucial funding to third world governments.

The SAPs were implemented at a time when most African countries were ushering in a new era of democracy following the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, the most painful development was the introduction of cost-cutting measures by the third world governments.

In Kenya, some of the cost-cutting measures introduced included cost sharing in public hospitals and schools.

Even though these measures were engineered by Mr Stern Fisher, the then deputy director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the donor community used them as the yard-stick of how third world economies should be managed.

President Kibaki was the key speaker at yesterday's function. Sachs insisted that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provide a clear road-map for poor countries fighting to break the poverty cycle. He described the MDGs as a commitment of the rich countries to help the poor - mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Through the MDGs, Sachs said, official development assistance would have to be increased by close to 0.7 per cent - which translates to about $140 billion more than the current flows.

Away from liberalisation and SAPs, Sachs said the Millennium Goals seek to win additional investments in critical areas that will open the way for poverty reduction.

He identified the areas as education, basic health, infrastructure, safe drinking water and reducing the costs of agricultural inputs to farmers.

Sachs regretted that rural communities continued to struggle under the weight of poverty and economic decline. "The crisis requires investments that they cannot afford," he said.

"What the rural communities need is to be empowered to stop using the traditional ways of doing things."

Sachs, however, warned that most third world countries were following the wrong course in their implementation of the Millennium Goals.

Redaktør: Arnfinn Nygaard
Sist oppdatert: 12. januar
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