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Dialogue between financial institutions and NGOs difficult

Por Laurence Pantin

Members of NGOs participating in the Global Forum debated with international financial institutions` representatives around the chapter on systemic issues of the Monterrey Consensus this afternoon, in what both later regarded as a constructive effort.

The difficulty of establishing a dialog between international financial institutions and NGOs lies in their different ideological premises, said Frank Schroeder, of the Ebert Foundation. While NGOs consider development efforts should find ways of redistributing the fruits of economic growth, financial institutions appear to be market fundamentalists.

While rejecting this label, Prakash Loungani, of the International Monetary Fund, stressed that international financial institutions exist precisely in order to help correct the market’s failures.

Aldo Cagliari, of the Center of Concern, expressed his concern about the lack of language on human rights in the part relative to systemic issues of the consensus. However, human rights are mentioned at the beginning of the document, stressed Barry Herman of the United Nations Secretariat, and if they are not mentioned in the rest of the document, it might be that NGOs didn’t lobby effectively.

The Monterrey conference was celebrated as the first North- South summit in the last 25 years by Herman who expressed his optimism about NGOs` participation in the conference’s process. The UN is offering a forum to try to resolve disputes, he added.

Herman`s optimism was not shared by Paul Tennassee, of the Confederation of Workers, who denounced policies like the 5-billion-dollar promise to aid for development President George W. Bush made yesterday, because poor countries have given much more than this amount to rich countries in interests on the debt, he said.

Despite cases like the crisis in Argentina, Tennassee added, the IMF and the World Bank continue to make mistakes. Lungangi from the IMF recognized that his institution makes mistakes, and said it tries to learn from them.

When a member of the audience accused the World Bank of impoverishing developing countries´ peoples, Jaime Bilderman of the World Bank said he didn’t accept this accusation and expressed that his institution is committed to reducing poverty, recognizing that NGOs and international financial institutions may have different methods, but they share the same objective.

Mexican Representative Leticia Burgos, who took part in the debate at the last minute, stressed the need for more parliamentary representation in the United Nations system, while Representative Maria Elena Chapa expressed the need to give a gender perspective to the issue of development.

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