15 November 2008
Debt & Public Finance
– A thousand protesters marched to the United States Embassy today to denounce the formal opening of the G-20 summit called by US President George W. Bush in Washington D.C to supposedly resolve the ongoing global financial crisis. The big demonstration, which is part of the Global Day of Action against the G-20 Summit, branded the gathering as an “elite jamboree” that has the sole objective of “resurrecting a dead and flawed development paradigm.”
In a statement, the protesting groups led by the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Focus on the Global South, Jubilee South and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) said while they support moves for different nations to come together in order to develop sustainable and viable solutions to the crisis, they believe the process to come up with the necessary solutions should not only be more open and participatory but more importantly, will not be used as a venue to “resurrect the dead.”
The groups that also include Akbayan, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), Youth For Nationalism and Democracy (YND), Makabayan, Kilusang Mangingisda (KM), Alab-Katipunan (AK) and Youth Against Debt (YAD) underscored the culpability of the Bush administration in the global economic meltdown. Elite Jamboree
“Sadly, the G-20 Summit is not only elite-centered, inequitable and dominated by US interest, moreover, the solutions that it would be promoting is more or less the same under an unchanged and archaic economic system which for the longest time has been proven to be crisis-endemic, debt-generating and poverty-creating,” FDC President Walden Bello said.
Bello said socials movements as early as the late 70s already warned that the policies of aggressive loan pushing, financial and trade liberalization would only result in more poverty and social inequalities.
“Neoliberalism, as we have already said so many times has only facilitated the further disconnection of economic activities to the real needs and activities of the people. This has happened time and time again, and we are now witnessing the end-result of how immense wealth-creation is juxtaposed with growing social inequality amid the widening gap between the financial and the real economy,” Bello said.
Neoliberalism is said to be the comprehensive response of capitalism to the crisis it experienced concerning over accumulation, overproduction and falling profits during the late 1970s. It is popularly known for its triumvirate policies of deregulation, privatization and liberalization.
It was widely blamed for the successive and increasingly violent financial crises such as the Mexican crisis in 1995, the Asian Crisis in 1997, the Russian and the Brazilian crises in 1998, the Argentine crisis in 2001 and the current US-Europe Financial meltdown.
Meanwhile, Focus on the Global South campaigner Joseph Puruganan reechoed Bello’s analysis. Purugunan said the G-20 summit is more about rescuing a flawed system rather than resolving the root causes of the crisis.
“On international trade, they will prescribe a more open and deregulated trading system when clearly, it is this regime of liberalization that’s partly to blame for the crisis,” Puruganan said.
Concurrently, GCAP Philippine Coordinator Joel Saracho said G-20 leaders should prioritize the needs of people living in poverty especially during the economic downturn.
“Surely, even in a time of an economic crisis, the priority should not be the bailout of banks and big corporations but the social bailout of the people,” Saracho said.Options for a Dying System
The protesting groups also said the G-20 summit is no more than a “private clinic” of the global elite to prescribe another escape route for the system to run away from the crisis.
“The G-20 Summit can take two options to address the crisis. It can either push for the continuation if not the completion of the neoliberal framework of less and less government intervention in the market and trading or return to a “regulated-type of capitalism such as the Bretton Woods system under the Roosevelt era,” Bello said.
“However, if there is anything the series of economic crises have taught us, the solution cannot be provided by virtue of simply choosing between a regulated or deregulated form of capitalism. More than ever, there is a strong need to fundamentally shift to a new, progressive and democratic development paradigm rooted from the people’s genuine needs and interest,” Bello asserted.Proposals towards a New and Democratic World Order
Lidy Nacpil, Regional Coordinator of Jubilee South-Asia Pacific Movement for Debt and Development reiterating a global call signed by 209 international, regional and national networks, demanded the following to address the crisis.
1. New structures and institutions based on new principles. What are needed are national, regional and global financial institutions based on economic democracy and equity, ecological sustainability and environmental justice, gender, racial, ethnic and international justice and equality, and self-determination and sovereignty of peoples and nations.
2. End market fundamentalism and the “one size fits all” formula: The world doesn’t need another dose of neoliberal prescriptions that has preached deregulation, privatization, the over-leveraging of banks and trade and capital liberalization that have damaged communities and the environment.
3. End the power of the IMF, World Bank: The present crisis has again demonstrated how we are all impacted by these powerful global institutions whose policies have been instrumental in its creation. Reforms to give them enhanced role, such as those being discussed in current debates, are unacceptable.
4. Regulate the global economy effectively. Governments should take immediate action to develop a new international regulatory architecture with democratic checks and balances that is aimed at preventing future financial crises and promoting the interests of workers, small-hold farmers, consumers, and the environment. The United Nations should play a central role in its development.
Yesterday, fifty activists from FDC and YAD conducted a noise barrage in General Santos City to drumbeat the global day of action. Also, last Monday, a forum on the global financial crisis and the Philippine debt was conducted in Ateneo de Davao by FDC-Davao in partnership with the university’s Social Work Department. -30-