Message-ID: <v02130505afd8a28cf89b@[]>
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 1997 03:01:10 -0500
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Kim Scipes <sscipe1@ICARUS.CC.UIC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Response to 1997 World Bank Development Report Msg
Comments: To:

Response to 1997 World Bank Development Report Msg

By Kim Scipes, Friday 27 June 1997

I very much appreciated Alex's briefing re the World Bank's World Development Report, and Sam's posting it to the list. Thank you both!

I want to make a few comments that will probably be old stuff to those who have focused much attention on the WB and/or IMF, but I don't think it ever hurts to remind folks, and perhaps they are even more appropriate for those who are fairly new to the issues.

I want to preface my remarks by stating that I've been working on an article on labor control in the Philippines and, as part of this, I've had to delve very deeply into Philippine economic development strategies and performance. This is after writing and publishing my book, KMU: BUILDING GENUINE TRADE UNIONISM IN THE PHILIPPINES, 1980-1994 (Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publishers). Besides that, I have a pretty good overall understanding of global economic issues and realities. Although this may be open to debate—and I welcome that!—I believe that there is probably no country in the world that the World Bank and IMF have fucked up more than the Philippines.

So, if we want to examine World Bank/IMF practices, it is probably through in-depth studies of their work in particular countries that we can be examine the differences between rhetoric and reality. This is expecially true in light of their inability/refusal, whatever, to publicly critique their own work. If you want an example of some of the grossest hypocritical writing I've seen in a while—and I've seen a lot!—see the section on the Philippines in the World Bank's TRENDS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, 1996: 422-424. Only by reading between the lines—if at all—could one realize that the World Bank was a MAJOR actor in Philippine development in the 1970s and 1980s.

There is quite a bit known about the WB role in the Philippines—for an expose of secret, internal bank documents, see DEVELOPMENT DEBACLE: THE WORLD BANK IN THE PHILIPPINES by Walden Bello, David Kinley and Elaine Elinson (San Francisco: Institute for Food and Development Policy and Philippine Solidarity Network, 1982), and then a follow-up analysis that included in-depth interviews with Filipino technocrats and implementors of the WB/IMF program about what went on, see UNEQUAL ALLIANCE: THE WORLD BANK, THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, AND THE PHILIPPINES by Robin Broad (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ of California Press, 1988). (I have problems with some of Broad's analysis, but it is an excellent effort, and very useful.) There are also excellent analyses done in the Philippines, but not generally available outside of the country, and some of which I have access to.

And for a general analysis of economic development during the Marcos period (which is when World Bank control over the economy really developed), see THE PHILIPPINES: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF GROWTH AN IMPOVERISHMENT IN THE MARCOS ERA by James Boyce (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press in association with the OECD Development Centre, 1993).

There's too much information to really go into depth in this message, but some quick highlights:

In other words, the economic policies supported and promoted by the WB and IMF have been an utter disaster to the Philippines. They have failed on the basis of their own neoliberal criteria, and like I said, have been an utter disaster for the large majority of the population: in 1995, according to IBON Databank—the single most reliable source for economic data in the country, and an NGO—the poverty rate in the country was 76%!

So, who has benefitted from the WB/IMF policies in the Philippines? The elites, of course, but also multinational corporations that have invested there.

What I believe we must always keep in mind when considering the WB and IMF: their role is to promote capitalist economic development, and not development of any 'third world' country.

I hope others will publicly share continuing analyses of World Bank/IMF projects.

In solidarity—Kim Scipes

————— Forwarded message —————
Date: 01 Jul 97 08:40:27 -0800
From: RVerzola <>
Subject: Re: Response to 1997 World Bank Development Report Msg (fwd)

> What I believe we must always keep in mind when considering the WB
> and IMF: their role is to promote capitalist economic development,
> and not development of any 'third world' country.

Hi, Pat. I basically agree with the analysis you forwarded, except perhaps that the sentence above needs a bit of clarification. The kind of development the WB and neo-liberal economists have engineered in the Philippines is probably better described as integration with the global capitalist system than capitalist development per se. We have assembly plants but are unable to manufacture even the most basic products ourselves. We import the simplest hand tools like hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, etc. from Taiwan or Japan. We import the simplest electronic parts like resistors, capacitors, transistors, etc.

In this regard, the Green program is probably best described as import-substitution.