World Bank – IMF Guilty of Promoting Land Grabs, Increasing Inequality

La Via Campesina Press Release

8 October 2018 by La Via Campesina

“Annual meeting in Bali this week is just a sham to cover up their criminal negligence of people’s interests,” say peasants.

07 OCTOBER, BALI: At a meeting of La Via Campesina facilitated by Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI) in Bali, peasant organisations from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe have unanimously held World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
responsible for facilitating large scale land grab, deforestation and ocean grabbing around the world, which has led to inequality, poverty and global hunger. Peasants pointed to several decades of neo-liberal push from World Bank and IMF for privatisation and de-regulation in developing countries, as among the major factors that has led to increased cost of living for peasant communities.

Over the last 30-40 years the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and more recently the WTO WTO
World Trade Organisation
The WTO, founded on 1st January 1995, replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The main innovation is that the WTO enjoys the status of an international organization. Its role is to ensure that no member States adopt any kind of protectionism whatsoever, in order to accelerate the liberalization global trading and to facilitate the strategies of the multinationals. It has an international court (the Dispute Settlement Body) which judges any alleged violations of its founding text drawn up in Marrakesh.

have forced countries to decrease investment in food production and to reduce support for peasant and small farmers.Under neo-liberal policies, state managed food reserves have been considered too expensive and governments have been forced to reduce and privatize them under structural adjustment Structural Adjustment Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.

Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors).


Representatives from countries such as Timor Leste, Thailand, Kenya, Cambodia, Malaysia, France, Indonesia, South Korea, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka have cited several instances of large scale land grab in their countries, to facilitate massive infrastructural projects that are funded by the World Bank and IMF.

David Calleb Otieno from Kenyan Peasants League said, “In Kenya recently, IMF pushed for the enactment of Finance ACT 2018 that has increased tax on fuels, mobile money transfer, and repealed the interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. rate law. The intention is to benefit Kenyan creditors to continue earning from Kenya’s servicing of the debts at the expense of the well being of Kenyan people. There is a freeze on welfare spending in Kenya. Kenyan Debt to GDP GDP
Gross Domestic Product
Gross Domestic Product is an aggregate measure of total production within a given territory equal to the sum of the gross values added. The measure is notoriously incomplete; for example it does not take into account any activity that does not enter into a commercial exchange. The GDP takes into account both the production of goods and the production of services. Economic growth is defined as the variation of the GDP from one period to another.
ratio now stands at almost 70% of the GDP. Caught in this debt trap, almost everything is being privatised – transport, water, telecommunication. Peasants have lost their autonomy over seeds and our agricultural policies are pushed towards incentivising cultivation of cash crops. All these policies are being pushed at the behest of IMF and World Bank.”

Ms Jeongyeol Kim from Korean Women Peasants’ Association added, “South Korea has signed trade agreements with 52 countries and these agreements guide how agricultural policies are framed in the country. There has been a consistent drive to turn away from peasant agriculture and adopt an export-oriented agribusiness model. This has led to increase in rural debt and a complete destruction of peasant livelihoods. Peasant women face the worst of this industrial model, that is heavy on use of chemical inputs. This shift in the way we do agriculture came about largely due to conditions put forth by IMF and World Bank while giving loans.”

Baramee Chairayat from Assembly of the Poor, Thailand said “The National Development Plan in Thailand always had the blessing of World Bank and it meant that agricultural land and public forests were being diverted to make way for massive highways, large agribusiness plantations and sugar cane factories. Over a period of four decades much of rural Thailand has become landless. They have enacted laws that alienated indigenous peoples from their forest.”

Claude Girod from Confederation Paysanne, France, the massive drive for industrialisation and agribusiness in African continent, coming as a result of conditional loans extended by World Bank and IMF have led to inescapable debt traps resulting in conflicts, wars and mass migration.”

“World Bank and IMF have, in the name of Structural Adjustment Programme, pushed for financialisation and privatisation of natural resources in Indonesia. When people resist these land grabs – taking place whether in the name of REDD+ or any other such programs – peasants are attacked, jailed and criminalised. We have the most recent case of Ahmad Azhari, who was kept in prison for nearly 9 months for defending the rights of peasants. All these institutions are here to help corporations expand their businesses rather than lifting people out of poverty”, said Zainal Arifin Fuad, national peasant leader from Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI).

“There is also a danger of co-option and appropriation. If you take the case of agrarian reform there have been several instances where World Bank and IMF also tries to speak the language of the peasant struggle by supporting agrarian reform, but those are in fact market-linked or market assisted forms of agrarian reform, which is not what peasant communities want”, added Zainal.

The peasant organisations have pledged to expose the incriminating role of World Bank and IMF in increasing inequality, land dispossession and poverty, even as the annual meeting of these bodies are under way this week in Bali, starting from 08 October.

La Via Campesina denounces the impunity with which these destructive policies are pushed forth by World Bank and IMF. We will continue our campaign for realising food sovereignty and freeing agriculture from trade negotiations.

Contact Information:

- Zainal Arifin Fuad, SPI, Indonesia — +62812 8932 1398 — zainal at
- Jeongyeol Kim, KWPA, Korea — +82 10 4811 7996 — kimj77689 at



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