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Protesters for no more WB-IMF loans to avoid debt catastrophe

UNB . Dhaka
19 Apr 2024 19:23:19 | Update: 19 Apr 2024 19:37:02
Protesters for no more WB-IMF loans to avoid debt catastrophe
— UNB Photo

As the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings got under way in Washington civil society groups worldwide on Friday launched protests saying money borrowed from the lenders must not lead to debt catastrophe.

As part of that, civil societies in Bangladesh also organised a protest rally in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Friday.

In addition, the global civil society will create a Twitter storm by posting their protest messages on Twitter Friday at 8pm Bangladesh time. Their primary demand is that the illegitimate debt imposed on the people should be cancelled immediately because the World Bank and IMF have reparations to pay.

The protest rally in Dhaka, jointly organised by the Asian People's Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), Bangladesh Farmers Federation, Coast Foundation, Waterkeepers Bangladesh, and CPRD, was chaired by General Secretary of Bangladesh Farmers Federation Zayed Iqbal Khan and moderated by Coast Foundation Director Mustafa Kamal Akand.

Coast Foundation Deputy Executive Director Sanat Kumar Bhowmik said in his speech that Bangladesh is offered a loan for the development of local communities affected by the Rohingya refugees and to deal with climate change mitigation.

"We are not responsible in any part for such problems. So why should we take a loan for this? Those who are responsible for this should compensate us instead," he added.

Ferdous Ara Rumi, general secretary of the World Rural Women's Day Observance Committee, said that developed countries like Germany pay an average of 1.5 per cent interest on loans, and America gives 3.1 per cent. In comparison, African countries pay an average interest of 11.6 per cent, and Asian countries pay 6.5 per cent.

“The poorer the country, the higher its interest rate. Because they are taking these higher-interest loans from private institutions as public institutions no longer lend to them,” she said.

Zayed Iqbal Khan of the Bangladesh Farmers' Federation said developing countries repay their debts mainly from export earnings. In the last decade, they have lost that ability. In 2010, developing countries' debt accounted for 71 per cent of their exports, rising to 112 per cent in 2022. They have already incurred and continue to incur more debt than their income, he added.

Mostafa Kamal Akand of the Coast Foundation said developing countries are exhausting their resources to pay the interest on their debts. The 139 World Bank-borrower countries spend 35 per cent of their revenue budgets on debt repayment.

Low-income countries (LIC) and lower-middle-income countries (LMIC) pay 57.5 per cent and 44.5 per cent, respectively, he said.

Kamal Akand also said, "We refuse this public debt imposed on the poor because the World Bank and the IMF are responsible for their poverty."

Among others, CPRD's Sheikh Noor Ataiah Rabbi, and Bangladesh Bhumihin Samity's General Secretary Engineer Foyej Ahmed Khan also spoke at the protest rally.