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IFIs as if People Mattered Voice and Mobilisation for Reforms Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir. House: 40/A, Road: 10/A, Dhanmondi, Dhaka–1209, Bangladesh Tel: 880-2-815 82 74, Fax: 880-2- 815 9135 E-mail: [email protected]; Website:

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IFIs as if People Mattered

Voice and Mobilisation for Reforms

Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir

House: 40/A, Road: 10/A, Dhanmondi, Dhaka–1209, Bangladesh

Tel: 880-2-815 82 74, Fax: 880-2- 815 9135

E-mail: [email protected]; Website:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;For loan oft loses both itself and friend,And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3

Development is inherently a normative concept…..To pretend otherwise is just to hide one’s value judgments.

Seers 1972:4

Knowing the past and planning the future

less has become more1
Less has become more…
  • The paradox is that less intervention in theory has meant more intervention in practice.
  • A brief initial moment of market triumphalism in the early 1980s (get the prices right), it became evident that a few decisive strokes of policy to roll back states and liberate markets was not enough.
  • Freeing the market escalated into an extraordinarily ambitious, or grandiose, project of social engineering - the pursuit of ‘good governance’ quickly extended to, and embraced, notions of ‘civil society’ and social institutions
  • The major shifts of development theory, policy discourse and design, and modalities of intervention in the period of neo-liberal ascendancy, spearheaded by the World Bank, scaled up to encompass the reshaping, or transformation, of political and social (and, by implication, cultural) as well as economic institutions and practices
the king can do no wrong
The king can do no wrong…

Making of Bank and the Fund above the Law in Bangladesh

  • The IFIs are protected from every form of legal process [Art. 8A. (a)];
  • The businesses are allowed to bring action against the IFIs in cases arising out of transactions [Art. 8A. (a)];
  • Person, agency, entity, directly or indirectly are barred from seeking judicial proceedings and remedy (see 8A. (b) in the Box – 1);
  • The beneficiaries of this legislation are: World Bank group [International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA)]; IMF (International Monetary Fund); and businesses (e.g. lenders, guarantors, security companies) (Expalnation); and
  • The disenfranchised are: citizens of Bangladesh, especially the poor and marginalised, and public-interest organisations (grassroots organisations, trade unions, women groups, academia, litigators, NGOs, etc.).

Source: IFI Watch Bangladesh, available at:

Sovereignty of State, Citizenship, and Rights to Development
  • The Democratic Deficit – Double Standards, Accountability and Transparency
  • Reasserting the Parliamentary Sovereignty

A people-centred parliament would embark upon:

  • formulation of a new legislation providing the parliament with the binding oversight powers including holding the Bangladesh representatives at the IFIs accountable to such committees;
  • enactment of legislation to ensure all information relating to projects is made public in a timely manner, and
  • Creating mechanisms to facilitate the participation of the people, especially affected communities, and civil society in the design of IFIs' country strategies, programmes and projects.
  • Establishment of a mechanism ensuring that affected person(s) receive remedy.

Redefined role – Authorship of policies to provider of finance international public goods

Policy Space – National Planning Process (not PRSP) – Paris?/?

slippery slopes
Slippery Slopes…

Sundarbans Biodiversity Conservation Project

  • Global Environmental Facility – USD 12.2 Million
  • Nordic Development Fund – USD 4.5 Million
  • ADB Grant for Khulna Newspaper Mill – USD 0.57 Million
  • ADB Loan – SDR – 26.9 Million
  • Suspended – Burden – the people of Bangladesh
  • Design or Implementation Failure
  • System of Arbitration – Dispute Settlement Body
pursuing common goals
Pursuing Common Goals?
  • A widespread donor view that the solution to poor services lies in increased partnership or interaction between government, NGOs, community organizations and for-profit providers
  • An area of contention between independent actors with structurally and ideologically different perspectives on the means and ends of public action but who, nonetheless, are engaged in public action through shared organizational arrangements.
  • The factors that condition the definitions of public action by government and non-governmental actors.
  • How their different goals are managed and controlled through alternative forms of contractual and non-contractual organizational arrangements.
  • How the characteristics of the service sectors under examination influence the perspectives of actors and the different possible forms of collaborations between organizations.
the empire
The Empire
  • SWAP – Banks in HNPSP and PEDP
  • Joint CAS – Banks, DFID, Japan
  • the Unicef or the Unesco are not in charge of education nor the WHO coordinates the health and nutrition policies and programmes
a simple schema of issues
A Simple Schema of Issues

Development Assistance


Trade, Diplomacy, Regional Interest, Historical Connection and Colonial past

Institutional reform


Participation – Design and Implementation

Good policy


Growth, Poverty Reduction, Well-being

Accountability (Horizontal and Vertical)


Reform and conditionalities



Knowledge, Praxis and Progress

Individual Choice and Development

Structural Change and Development

Social Individual

(Individuals are independent of, dependent on; interdependent within society)




Development and Democracy