Ask an Economist: Assistance Still Needed for the Poorest

Ilene Grabel

Triple Crisis Blog has invited readers’ questions in advance of the April 24-25 IMF/World Bank meetings in Washingon. See all of the questions and answers here. A reader asked:

Q: Will we finally see an IMF/WB policy that truly acknowledges the rights of the poor and the least developed countries?  Will the reforms of the IMF/WB push for localization and food sovereignty as ways to face poverty?

Grabel: Certainly the IMF/WB have been discussing the poor and the poorest developing countries a good deal of late, especially in relation to the effects of the financial crisis on the most vulnerable. And some of the assistance packages that they’ve negotiated have paid somewhat more attention to the most vulnerable groups, such as pensioners (though concrete financial support for the most vulnerable groups has been pretty scant).

But whether the IMF/WB will move in directions that truly address the needs of the poor and the poorest countries is very uncertain at this point. Indeed, a good deal of the assistance funds provided by the IMF/WB during the current crisis have gone to wealthier countries, especially to struggling countries in Europe and not to the poorest countries in the world.

As far as the IMF/WB pushing for localization and food sovereignty in practical ways, well that, unfortunately, seems to me less likely in the foreseeable future.