Examination of Witnesses(Questions 20-39)|
MP, MR TONY
FAINT, CBE AND
TUESDAY 5 NOVEMBER 2002
20. Again it may be an idea to have perhaps
a note from the Treasury as to what has happened so far on that.
(Clare Short) We can certainly get you a note on special
The Chancellor's proposal for the extra 50 billion rests on countries
pre-committing growth in ODA resources and borrowing against those
commitments and getting a triple "A" rating and raising
some money from the markets to bring forward through partnering
with private sector funds what would come out of increasing ODA
budgets through to 2015. That is the core of that proposal and
it does not rest in its core on special drawing rights, but certainly
where we are with special drawing rights, and I am pretty sure
because I did follow that this Soros thing might go somewhere
and then I found that I thought it was going nowhere on that,
I must say, and I have not found out what happened since, but
we can certainly get you a note on both.
21. I am not sure whether, as a matter of courtesy,
we send the Department copies of submissions that we have been
sent by others, but just rounding off this particular bit of questions,
Secretary of State, when you came and spoke to the All-Party Group,
you very accurately said that the Jubilee campaign had been the
largest and most effective civil campaign since the abolition
of slavery, and I paraphrase.
(Clare Short) Probably, yes, because it was global.
22. Yes, absolutely. So there are a lot of or
all of our constituents have been very interested in that campaign
and how it has been working. I think the exchange of questions
and answers so far this morning has illustrated that this is an
area which is moving forward, and it is quite technical. I think
all of us are still getting postcards from constituents which
do not suggest there is a very simple black and white issue and
I just wondered, and you will probably tell me you have done this
in a speech or somewhere, whether in response to some of the campaign
that is going on we could between us all draft a plain person's
guide to where we are on debt relief. We can all imagine our typical
concerned constituent is very interested in this issue, but needs
to be content that somehow the politicians are confident that
actually some progress is being made, it is really having an impact
on countries and that there are some poor countries where it really
has had an impact and that the UK has been in the lead on many
of these initiatives. I just think that would be enormously helpful
for a large number of colleagues in the House and it could perhaps
even be put in the House of Commons Library which we could draw
upon so that one can actually engage in a correspondence with
constituents which is informed rather than the ghastly kind of
postcard standard letter response, if indeed you understand my
(Clare Short) We have done that, but I am more than
happy to try and update it and put it perhaps to you to see if
you think there is any way of clarifying it. There are some countries
and institutions that are not co-operating and we could do with
a campaign on that, but getting this greater generosity at Completion
Point is fantastically important and we could do with some more
pressure on that. The other thing that the campaigning NGOs are
moving on to, and it is the partner to debt relief, is trade access.
Of course once you have got rid of your foreign currency debt,
you want to be able to borrow responsibly and trade responsibly
in order to grow your economy, so I think the thrust of the campaigning
is moving there. I am more than happy to let you have a draft
standard letter and briefing that we have because the problem
is that people's sense of moral clarity is very simple and clear
and we are into then some very technical and complex issues and
there is a sort of clashing mood about the two.
23. But I think that people who have demonstrated
concern in the past should be reassured that things are moving
forward and that there is progress being made even if it is quite
technical. I am sure we would be very happy to see that.
(Clare Short) Let me let you have what we have got
and see if you can help us make it better.
Chairman: Perhaps then one can also move
campaign groups on to the campaigns that need people rather than
the campaigns that do not.
24. Since this Committee first started, I think
we have criticised the International Financial Institutions, as
you have yourself, for not practising what they preach in terms
of transparency, accountability and good governance with the voting
power of the seven countries who have nearly 50 per cent of the
total voting power, the feeling that developing countries are
squeezed out of the process, the fact that gender balance does
not seem to have occurred to the Boards of the IMF and the World
Bank with 100 per cent, I think, male membership on one and 92
per cent on the other. Now, I know that because of pressure from
the UK in particular, the IMF and the World Bank have promised
to prepare a new position paper in the Spring of next year. I
was wondering what ways you have identified in which you would
like to see the votes of the developing countries heard in the
whole process and in fact the views you have of what kind of paper
they ought to prepare in the Spring of next year?
(Clare Short) Let me say a word on the G7 because
we had an argument about the last replenishment of IDA, the very
concessional, long-term loans of the World Bank to the poorest
countries, and there was a difference between the European perspective
and the US perspective. I would just note the point that if Europe
stands together, it is a majority, but it does not always do so
because one of the problems is that the lead in the Bank in a
lot of countries is in the finance ministry, not in the development
ministry, unlike us, so you do not get the people who are as sympathetic
to or as informed about development lending in the World Bank,
so you get that division, which is kind of interesting and we
could do more with the World Bank and moving forward reform faster,
I think, if all countries had their development ministry leading.
Some do and some do not. On the gender balance, at the first meeting
of the Development Committee I went to, which I think was in 1997
in Hong Kong, I think I was the only woman and there were all
these ministers either from finance ministries or indeed from
central banks reading out sort of turgid macroeconomic advice.
We then got a whole series of women ministers who started talking
about poverty and I was thinking at the last meeting that you
would not recognise the two meetings, that people now talk up
rather than read, there are more women at the meetings, still
not 50 per cent, but it has changed the atmosphere and the focus
on poverty is a transformation. So change can happen in these
institutions and it is worth trying. Strengthening the developing
country voice is very, very important and it is one of the promises
of Monterrey. Lots of countries are not keen on it. It is slightly
complex in that obviously the commitment into the institution
is according to the wealth of the country and the countries that
put the money in want to have their say about how much money is
put in, but the borrowing countries have a big interest in what
the policy is. It seems to me that this is what we need to unpack.
Of course if you said, "The borrowers can tell everyone that
is putting money into the institution", you might get some
pretty crazy decisions, but, on the other hand, the borrowers
have a fantastic interest in how the institution is used and what
the policy lead is and, therefore, it is much too weak there.
There is room for looking at which decisions, who has consulted
about what and how much say everyone has. Then the other thing
is the offices in Washington, how many executive directors there
are, Africa has two, so you have two people, one Francophone,
one Anglophone, paid to represent every country in Africa. Weak
communications, enormous complexity. Just being resourced to do
that, they are not adequately resourced. There is a thing about
voice and influence on policy, I think, but also there is how
well serviced the people are who are doing this heroic job of
trying to represent very frail countries with a weak capacity
to brief their people in Washington about what their interest
is. We have got some proposals, we have been working to try and
strengthen the African EDs and there is more that can be done
there. We did press at the annual meeting which has just gone
for a report on improving the developing country voice to be brought
to the Spring meeting. A lot of people do not like it but because
it was promised at Monterrey they have got to do it. It is well
worth watching. It is very important to change the atmosphere
in the institution. There has been a massive improvement in the
relationship between the UN institutions and the Bank which used
to fight and really be hostile, it is more collaborative now.
I think getting a stronger developing country voice would balance
it again and everyone would start seeing them as institutions
which can help everybody, we are not there yet.
25. I know the UK has supported an open democratic
system for selecting the top management of the financial institutions.
I wonder how you are supporting the introduction of an open process
for selecting the next President of the World Bank?
(Clare Short) As you know, this is an old carve up
since the Bretton Woods meeting. Funnily enough the US gets the
World Bank and Europe gets the IMF and it cannot go on, surely.
What about the rest of the world? This is disgraceful. The World
Bank's first remit was thinking about restoring Europe and you
can see how that was the mindset then but now it is the important
institution for developing countries and they are carved up by
that deal of everyone contemplating taking up the leadership.
It is intolerable. The geographical carve up is intolerable and
then the system for selecting is a kind of political fix system,
lots of UN appointments are too, let me say. We need to have a
much more open process saying what are the skills which are required.
I think when you are looking for these international jobs you
need international head hunting because just to have an application
system when you are looking at five or six continents is not right.
I have been having this discussion with Kofi Annan too. Of course
he has got to balance African/Asian men, women, Europe but I think
you could have a head hunt for people who are in the bracket of
competence and then if you need to balance continents you can
do it. Then the final selection is a bit like political selections,
as long as the short list is competent in the end it does not
matter who wins. It is an outrage the present system and it needs
continuing pressure to make it transparent, to go for competent
and to have a political fix. It extends to UN appointments too.
26. I quite agree. What is the timescale for
the next head of the World Bank?
(Clare Short) Jim Wolfensohn keeps saying he has got
anther two and a bit years.
(Mr Faint) It is just over two years, yes.
(Clare Short) I must say we are not winning this.
We are arguing it. Tony, do you want to say something?
(Mr Faint) I was going to say, I think that we have
made some progress internationally. Some jobs, for example the
head of UNESCO appointed a year or two ago was done by a very
open and competitive process. The process for the head of the
WHO looks like it will be quite open, although
(Clare Short) I think that is a bit romantic.
(Mr Faint)it will be structured in a certain
way, nominations by member governments. On the IFIs, well, you
have very powerful large shareholders who still feel comfortable
with the current system which as the Secretary of State says is
contrary to the principles of multilateralism and we have to go
on pressing to try and change it.
27. Are we the only large shareholder that is
pushing for this change then?
(Clare Short) Of course the Scandinavians and so on,
the smaller ones, would always support. Is there anyone else?
(Mr Faint) I think a decision in G7 is what this would
(Clare Short) Yes, but there is no-one else?
(Ms McMillin) No.
(Clare Short) I think the truth is without more energy
behind this the prospect of a change by the appointment in the
next President of the World Bank is less than 50:50.
(Mr Faint) Even if we can have a competitive open
process limited by nationality that would be a big step forward
from the current one name nomination.
28. Finally, can I put a point to you about
the concern among NGOs, particularly those concerned with the
rights of indigenous people and environmental conservation in
the face of the World Bank financed construction projects, pipelines,
dams and so on. The World Bank's social and environmental safeguard
polices are being weakened. The safeguard policies are guidelines
about what World Bank staff must do and provide an important means
of holding the World Bank to account. It has been suggested that
the UK Government does not regard the maintenance of such safeguards
as a priority, and this was illustrated in UK support for the
Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project. Can you tell us what the UK position
(Clare Short) Yes. I think some of these campaigners
are opposed to the interests of people in developing countries
and tend to oppose any dam, any development, any pipeline, any
energy project. If you take, for example, the Chad-Cameroon pipeline,
these are desperately poor countries which have got oil. They
must be allowed to exploit it surely for the benefit of their
development which means a pipeline and surely it is better to
have the World Bank engaged. The campaigners come in to get the
World Bank out, if you get the World Bank out it will just be
done commercially. You are right, they mount enormous campaigns,
it tends to be environmental groups with little knowledge of development
and therefore ending up often unsympathetic to development. We
had a similar campaign about a project in the west of China amongst
some desperately poor people and in the end China just said "Get
the World Bank out we will do it on our own". There have
been a number of these campaigns where we stand very strongly
against that kind of cheap headline grabbing campaigning but we
insist as a Government with our influence that all the proper
environmental checks are done and such investments, which are
often in frail and environmentally precious environments, are
done responsibly. Yes, personally I and the Department have stood
against some of these campaigns because they are often anti-development
campaigns and they are people living in rich countries who have
access to energy and clean water and sanitation who mean well
but are against any development in poor countries. We think the
World Bank should have the highest standards but it is better
to have the Bank in than out on a lot of these projects. The effect
of some of those campaigns is to get the Bank out and just leave
it to pure commercial exploitation which will have lower environmental
29. Would you not say some of these campaigns
are justified because large scale shifting of populations takes
place? For instance, I know you were not involved in this but
the Illisu Dam in Turkey where tens of thousands of people were
(Clare Short) Of course, but you asked specifically
about Chad-Cameroon and I think the campaign was run on that and
I think it was right to go ahead and keep the Bank engaged. I
think the campaign against the Western China projectcan
you remember what that was called?
(Ms McMillin) Western China Poverty Reduction.
(Clare Short) Western China Poverty Reduction Project,
the net effect was to get the Bank out so the thing is going ahead
without the Bank's environmental standards being engaged. China
is moving on environmental standards. That was the whole point
of, for example, the World Commission on Dams. There were big
infrastructure projects when that was the fashion of the time
with exaggerated notions of what the irrigation effect or the
power effect would be, displacing people, disrespecting people,
not looking at all the human consequences. I think it swung then
to no infrastructure development, no dams, no power, which you
cannot go to. We need to go much more to the sort of wisdom that
was in the World Commission on Dams, responsible projects, properly
managed, properly considering all the interests of all the people
involved. Of course there have been propositions which have been
disgracefully not considerate of poor people and indeed of the
environment. That does not mean every single project should be
opposed. Some groups have got to that point and that is where
the argument is with my Department.
30. There are occasions where for social and
environmental reasons we might have to challenge the World Bank's
involvement in some project?
(Clare Short) Absolutely or require a further screening
of the potential environmental effects and an adjustment. In the
Western China project I know we asked for another stage of consulting
local people and so on. We intervene often to try and make sure
the projects are more responsible but we always look at what is
the interest of poor people in the country, can it help reduce
poverty and be responsible environmentally and in considering
the interests of the poor. My own bias is to have the Bank in
if you can rather than leave it to pure commercial development
which will tend to be less considerate of people and the environment.
31. What is it that is holding up the writing
and the agreement of Poverty Reduction Strategy papers in those
highly indebted poor countries which have not produced them? To
what extent are the donor nations or the Bank putting brakes on
the process? To what extent are those developing countries that
have not yet produced the strategies responsible?
(Clare Short) There are a massive number of strategies
being developed. I think the Poverty Reduction Strategy way of
working has taken off in the international system. For example,
Bangladesh is doing one that is not a HIPC because it does bring
together macro-economic policy and social policy and revenues
and how to deal with debt and how aid is dispersed together and
more long term and then looking at what trade can contribute and
get a more holistic approach and a more open approach. You can
go too fast or at least a lot of the highly indebted poor countries,
they had interim Poverty Reduction Strategies and because they
needed their debt relief fast it was often only an outline. Then
we needed to stick with it and deepen them and lengthen them and
widen them; that process has been going on. My sense isbut
Penny might want to comment on thissome of the other countries
represented on the board of the Bank have started piling on the
conditionality and slowing things down a bit but some countries
are less committed to reform than others. A lot of development
talk is as though all leaders of all developing countries care
about the poor and as you know that is not the case.
Hugh Bayley: If only.
(Clare Short) Sometimes the strategy is not good enough.
Do you want to comment? It has gone slower than we hoped.
(Ms McMillin) Certainly it has gone slower than we
hoped. I think in the very broadest terms with a lot of the countries
which have been slow preparing the PRSPs before reaching a decision
point on HIPC it has been due to conflict and especially in sub-Saharan
Africa. There has been a certain slowness between decision point
and completion point which has sometimes been related to poor
policy and slower implementation of reforms than perhaps we would
have expected. I am not sure about the conditionality point that
you raise, Secretary of State. I think that as the process has
gone on from its very early days we have realised just what is
involved and what potential it has to draw in absolutely everything.
This is a very large process so we have to make sure that we get
it right. As we go on and have got more experience with it we
have realised just how much can be built into this to make it
a real Poverty Reduction Strategy.
32. Can I ask what the UK Government is doing
to make sure that the Poverty Reduction Strategies are nationally
owned, owned by the countries to which they apply, and that they
are developed in consultation with civil society and the parliament
of the people of those countries? What is our Government doing
to ensure that? Are we in a position to ensure that when a country
is debating its Poverty Reduction Strategy that it faces real
choices between doing one thing or doing something different,
and that there are a range of options, policy options, both as
regards economic policy choices and social policy choices. How
do we get the countries in the driving seat, the people involved
and both in a position to steer a process rather than responding
to demands from the rich world?
(Clare Short) On the first point, in my view the Poverty
Reduction Strategy process borne out of debt relief but now going
much more widely, and the transformed way of the Bank and the
IMF working in developing countries, is a revolutionary shift
from reform agendas written in Washington, imposed on countries,
often in collusion with some of their governments, because reform
is difficult, and if you can say the IMF made us do it, it is
sometimes easier. There was some of that collusion going on. If
you talk to the HIPC finance ministers they say it is politically
more difficult but they prefer it. It means they take the flack
at home, they cannot just say "It is all the IMF's fault".
You can get this shift from Washington so we can do what we like,
it is not that. It has to be the genuine partnership aimed at
meeting the Millennium Development Goals, the beauty of them being
that we have all agreed to them. You have got corrupt governments
who do not really care and who want their debt relief but do not
want to spend it on people. You have got very powerful elites
in developing countries and they want the health and education
budget spent on hospitals and university places for the capital
and the elite. Those tensions are very strongly still in government
so you do need this kind of partnership conditionality, it is
about delivering to the poor, it is about working together to
meet the Millennium Development Goals but it needs to be driven
by the country and open in the country, that has been a condition
of the PRSPs. I think everywhere it has opened governments to
criticism by civil society that they were not used to when it
came to reform, they were agreeing with the Washington institution.
Those reforms used to be agreed behind the back of people, limited
at first often because a lot of people in very poor countries
are not used to being consulted, they do not have the means or
the knowledge to know what all these phrases mean. We have been
trying to work with church groups in particular which tend to
penetrate right down to the grass roots so if they are more informed
about the processes really they can bring the people in. That
is ongoing work and we are very committed to it. I think in the
early stage we missed parliaments because we said it must be open
with the people, we were all concentrating on civil society. Parliaments
were hardly in the process in many countries. I think that has
been corrected and in countries where we have been engaging with
the kind of reform in finance ministries on budgets and so on,
like Tanzania, then it has to go into the parliament because they
have now got procedures which mean financial commitments have
to go into the parliament. I think not just us but the whole inspiration
of the PRSP, this country lead and openness is very much a part
of it but there was a tension in the early days, the interim PRSP
was to trigger the debt relief so countries wanted to do it fast.
Of course then they want to put down what the Bank and the Fund
will approve so I think in the early days sometimes it was not
as locally owned a process. There is a tension between speed and
local ownership. I think local ownership is deepening. We are
very committed to this and I think it is deepening across the
world in a very important way. How can you make sure that the
debate is about real choices? This is enormously important. The
Povertywhat do you call them.
(Mr Faint) Poverty and Social Impact Analysis.
(Clare Short)which we are very, very keen on.
You know the arguments about good water being run by a private
sector provider or should there be any charges or the whole misleading
campaign against the Ghana water reorganisation. The view of my
Department is we should not take an ideological position on these
questions if it is the water sector or something else. How is
the country doing? What are the interests of the poor? How can
you get a better service and keep the prices and so on? If you
then say "Should we build this dam or not?" or "Should
we reorganise the way we do our water supplies? Should we bring
in a private sector partner or not?" then countries get choices
if they have a procedure that can check what are the benefits.
There are always thousands of different ways of doing things.
I think we are moving there. We are very keen on this Poverty
and Social Impact Analysis. We are doing some work to experiment
with rolling them forward and giving them an example. Funnily
enough, up to now the IMF has been keener than the Bank. I have
been pressing the Bank too. We have been pressing at all levels.
I took it up with Jim Wolfensohn. Do you want to add something?
This is really important to all. Within the strategy the PRSP
would enable countries to look at different options and where
the interests of the poor lay. That gives the choice and sense
of control you are looking for.
(Mr Faint) I think conceptually we have won the argument.
It is accepted that you need to have a good analytical base for
the key choices facing countries in designing Poverty Reduction
Strategies. The way to go is through a disciplined assessment
process. The IMF is a consumer for this. The IMF needs the analysis
in order to design its programmes better and have its dialogue
with the Government. The World Bank with the donors has helped
to deliver this product. I think we have an analytical tool which
will do this job but there is a lot of work to be done. We have
done some pilot exercises. We have had discussions with the Bank
and the Fund on the underlying concepts and what is needed now
is to roll this out, and it is quite a large task, to identify
key issues within Poverty Reduction Strategies that require this
kind of analysis and then programme it. It is going to take a
period to do this job. Conceptually I think we are there but there
is quite a lot of implementation still to be done.
(Clare Short) We are doing these studies to try and
drive it forward which I think we should share with you<fu5>.
I think this is very important. There are fiveMozambique,
Uganda, Rwanda, Armenia and Honduraswhich are complete
and there are others coming, Indonesia and Pakistan. I know we
are going to do a dissemination with NGOs. I think we should keep
the Select Committee informed. It is a thing which will need driving.
It is a tool of more local ownership and choice again that civil
society needs to understand so they can face up to what the real
choices are in a country.
33. As a Select Committee, as we have visited
various countries, I think all of us have been struck with governments
very often engaged in poverty reduction. DFID very often is helping
civil service and civil service reform. A lot of work has been
done on civil society and engaging civil society on these things.
Parliamentarians are a big black hole. Many of us will remember
Hugh giving a very gentle lecture to some of our Nigerian parliamentary
colleagues about accountability. This concept of accountability,
very often it is a country which has emerged from civil war and
conflict where there is not a long tradition of parliamentary
accountability. There was a feeling amongst many of us that maybe
the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and other organisations
ought to do more in trying to help parliamentarians in Commonwealth
countries, in Africa and elsewhere, have a better understanding
of what is the role of being a member of parliament otherwise
one has that important bit of the jigsaw, not just on these issues
but on many other issues, continuously missing.
(Clare Short) I agree with this. Let me say there
is another thing, the cost of getting elected. We pushed multi-party
democracy on to countries without thinking through who pays for
politics. It is estimated it costs £20,000 to be elected
in Uganda, as much as £750,000 in India. I have been trying
to get Transparency International to be interested in an index
of how much it costs to be elected because if people are paying
that kind of money then for sure they are going to try to get
it back from somewhere, so that is another part of the battle.
I agree within goodwilland there is always some of thatyou
never get total corruption, there are always some people who care.
Giving them the tools of holding their government to account we
do try to work it into the improved financial accountability but
more could be done. I agree it is a really important aspiration
and we ought to think it through more. The Commonwealth Parliamentary
Association does enormously important work but maybe we could
add to it and sharpen it and this sharing of skills could be a
very important effort. The World Bank has set up a parliamentary
tier which I am sure some of you have been involved in.
34. Can I say, Secretary of State, that is steaming
ahead, obviously, the parliamentarians and the World Bank. One
thing which is outstanding still is the accreditation of parliamentarians
to the meetings of the World Bank and the IMF. At the moment that
is not allowed apparently because of the decision of member governments.
Perhaps this is something which you might wish to look into, to
enable parliamentarians in their own right to be able to attend
meetings of the World Bank and the IMF in the way NGOs are able
to do so. At the moment parliamentarians cannot go on their own,
they can go if they are accredited to an NGO and they can go if
they are accredited to a government delegation but they cannot
go in their own right.
(Clare Short) I will have to look into that. That
is the first time that point has ever been put to me. Let me say,
the old style of everyone turning up mob handed to the meetings
of all these multilateral organisations, and NGOs spending a fortune
of the money they collect charitably to go there, is a crazy system.
Getting back to the proper systems of accountabilitywhich
are to parliament and to civil society at home which we have been
trying to work on through these routes and indeed this kind of
scrutinyis the right way.
Mr Colman: I agree.
(Clare Short) Then having some representation of parliament
and maybe NGOs in government delegations, as you know, I think
is a good thing. I think the idea that everyone has to travel
to know what is going on at the meeting is madness because it
gives people a sense that everything is out of control and there
is no way of holding their government to account. I will look
Mr Colman: Please.
(Clare Short) I know you do like attending these meetings.
Mr Colman: I am informed and I think
it is important that other parliamentarians can be equally informed.
(Clare Short) We cannot have all 650.
35. Can I ask about the Poverty and Social Impact
Analysis. You mentioned DFID is piloting studies independently
from the World Bank. There is going to be a conflict clearly in
the countries where this is most needed and countries where it
is important to deliver. In areas, for instance, where there is
difficulty with the poor governance in the country it is going
to be difficult for pilot studies taking place within an area
where it has been difficult to deliver such an analysis. How will
this be translated into a country where the poor are separated
from the reduction target strategy by their own government?
(Clare Short) This is a wider point about how to get
development in the poorest, most misgoverned countries. We have
made a lot of progress in the last five years in improving the
way we back reformers and back countries which are willing to
go for reform. That has tended to lead to them turning away from
the countries with terrible corruption and bad government. Lots
of the very poorest people and most depressed people in the world
live in those countries. There has been work going on in the Bank,
they call it LICUSLow Income Countries Under Stress, terrible
set of initialsand there is work going on in the development
committee of the OECD. I think this is the next theme we have
to pay attention to, how to drive forward progress in countries
where that energy is not coming from the government, and it is
very difficult to work in the country when you have got corruption
and oppression and so on. I have been thinking things like maybe
in a country where you just cannot get a commitment from the government
to primary education, say, for the poor, maybe the donor should
fund it to get one generation of children through because we know
that brings about deep change. You can do things on social marketing,
things like condoms, bed nets and so on. Improving our capacity
to intervene in countries where you cannot get a commitment to
reform out of the government we are working on and I think we
need to do more on. I think it is very important to get pressure
on it but it is very difficult in the nature of the task. If you
take Nigeria, it has come to democracy, enormously important,
it is more than one in five of sub-Saharan Africans, very little
reform has happened since the last elections. It is an oil rich
country with 70 per cent of the people being a dollar a day poor.
It is a very difficult country to reform: the separation of powers
between the federal and the state and so on, if the Archangel
Gabriel became the President it would be very difficult. No, we
need to be serious, how can we help Nigeria reform itself? This
is the biggest, hardest question in international development
that you ask. We are working on it.
36. The World Bank and the IMF at their Spring
meeting this year endorsed a new Education for All action plan
to help make primary education a reality for all children by 2015
and to achieve gender equality in primary and secondary education
by 2005. This plan includes a new fast track initiative to speed
up donor efforts to financially support developing countries'
national education plans. Twelve countries are ready to participate
already in the fast track initiative but need donor financing
in order to do so. What progress did the Autumn meetings make
as regards generating funding for the Education For All initiative
and with finalising a strategy and timetable to expand the list
of participating countries? What resources will the UK put towards
the fast track initiative?
(Clare Short) Yes. First of all, the World Bank did
not launch the initiative on Education For All by 2015 and gender
equality, that was one of the international development targets,
now the Millennium Development Goals. It did not come out of the
Bank, it came out of the UN system backed by the development committee
of the OECD and then reaffirmed most powerfully in the Millennium
Development Goals. It was already there as an agreed international
objective and lots of work had gone on. Then the World Bank launched
its fast track initiative under a lot of pressure from NGO campaigning
but tended to frame the question of what we needed to do to get
faster progress on primary education in terms of extra donor resources.
The first announcement of the fast track initiative was like a
cosmetic presentation and a false analysis. It listed the countries
where we have made some of the best progress and departments like
mine and others have worked very hard: the Ugandas, the Mozambiques,
the Rwandas and so on, and then said "We are going to have
a World Bank fast track initiative". It was like they were
going to have a trust fund, ask for some extra money, sprinkle
it into the reformers and then claim that they had driven forward
progress on primary education. That was the initial fast track
initiative. We engaged very strongly. Then on a number of these
countries like Uganda and Rwanda, where we are very involved,
we are having arguments with the IMF that they are over-aided,
so they are making progress on education and there are limits
on the international system, so they cannot have more aid. We
argued for the extension to countries with very large numbers
of children out of school which are not leading the reform effort
and are not moving forward. You have got then the so-called analytical
fast track which is conceptual and complex and you look at the
Nigerias, the Ethiopias, the Indias where there is some effort
to make progress but there are still so many children not in school
and so on and then the question becomes how can you energise the
international system to put supportive pressure on a country to
be willing to go for the kind of reform behind which extra resources
can drive forward progress on getting more children into school.
We are working very hard to try and reshape the fast track initiative
in that way. I happened to go to Tanzania and be talking to ministers
from Uganda and so on after the fast track initiative had been
launched, it was being announced in Washington and NGOs were proclaiming
it but people who lived in the country who were reforming education
did not know anything about it. So there was a lot of that going
on which really is no good. Also we need to get this thing under
control because then it was suggested we will have a fast track
health initiative and a fast track water initiative and then these
are going to be cosmetic Washington, bits of funds, not delivering
on the ground, not part of Poverty Reduction Strategies, not sustainable,
not reaching scale. So in terms of the UK's commitment to finance,
in the early stages they were talking about a World Bank Trust
Fund, and it was part of this conception dole out a bit of extra
money and you crack the problem. We are not proposing to put any
money in a trust fund. We believe absolutely in working bottom
up, backing Poverty Reduction Strategies, as we have been saying
earlier this morning, putting money through budgets where you
can because you are getting sustainable long term reform and reform
in the use of the country's own revenues. You will know these
figures. Since 1997 we have committed £700 million to driving
forward the commitment to universal primary education. We have
just done an exercise in the Department and projected spendwhich
is not the same as committed but these are plans in the Department
if governments will commit to moveover the next five years
is £1.3 billion. We believe passionately in driving forward
primary education. As you know the evidence is that it is the
most powerful intervention you can make in a country which brings
about development. We are trying to reshape the fast track initiative
to make it something useful and add energy to progress rather
than a falsely based cosmetic initiative.
37. The problem with primary education for all
children in some of the countries is that the children in the
family, because of poverty, are involved in making a contribution
to wealth. They are big earners in many countries and particularly
in India, I know, the children are involved in making a contribution
by working at different places, maybe in the farms or maybe some
factories, as you know, that is well known to the international
community. I was with the delegation in Malawi and education for
every child is impossible in a country like that. The target which
has been set up by 2015, it is impossible to achieve that target.
(Clare Short) It is not impossible. The problems you
outline are there but the reality on the ground in many countries
is that we have learned how to make progress. We have seenand
this is one of the most moving things I have seenvery poor
families who, yes, rely on the work of their children. Either
you have got fees or often in countries it is not fees but you
have to buy the books, you have to have special clothes, there
are all sorts of barriers which stop poor children getting to
school. In the case of Uganda or indeed Malawi, which is a desperately
poor country, when absolutely free education was announced millions
of extra children came out of their desperately poor families
with this fantastic hunger for education. That is the experience
across the world. Then there are other things like girls will
not stay at school, especially as they get a bit older, if there
are not toilets there and simple things which you do not think
about which are very important for dignity and security. Across
the world there is work going on in the poorest countries. The
reason we have a long Summer holiday in this country is because
our children used to help with the harvest. In many countries
when children are from poor rural communities and they are needed
for the harvest there should be a break from school. In many,
many poor countries this is driving forward. In Andhra Pradesh
in India massive progress is being made. I do not know if I have
said this to you before. I have been to a village in Andhra Pradesh
where there was not a single illiterate woman. It is a tribal
village. Every single girl, including the special needs girls,
is in school. It is not easy but it is doable with all this absolute
drive and commitment but it must be free and it must not have
hidden costs like books and uniform and all that sort of thing.
We can make very considerable progress. The places where we have
got problems are places like the Nigerias where reform is not
driving or the conflict countries of course, the Myanmar, Burma,
the Congo and so on, Sudan, you have to end the conflict before
you can begin to try and get all children into school but we can
make progress and that is the commitment. We are determined to
drive it in any way we can. In Africa we have become more and
more interested in resolving conflict partly because you cannot
get the Millennium Development Goals in those countries until
you have ended the conflict. Then if you concentrate on the Sudan
there is a prospect of it coming to peace. If we all would focus
on the Congo we can help that country to peace and then it will
get its debt relief. There are something like 60 million people
in the Congo so it is enormously difficult but enormous progress
is possible. I have just come back from Afghanistan, schools are
opening there and children are queuing up to go to school. Please
do not be so pessimistic.
38. Can I ask you, Secretary of State, about
the World Bank's Private Sector Development Strategy which I understand
was approved in February this year and aims to encourage the transfer
of public services into private hands. In response to my colleague,
Hugh Bayley, you talked about the need for more ownership and
choice for countries. Do you think this is compatible with things
like the World Bank's strategy in this area? I understand this
is conditional in some cases on policy for lending and, of course,
within monopolistic markets dominated by transnational private
sector utility firms there is concern that effective regulation
cannot work and you cannot get reliable pro-poor service delivery.
(Clare Short) I do not agree at all that is what the
World Bank's Private Sector Development Strategy says. There are
some NGOs who are devoted to campaigning against engagement of
the private sector in the provision of utilities which are misinformed,
I think, and stand against the interests of developing countries.
There has been less investment in modern telecommunications in
Africa than any other region in the world. It is the place with
less connections to the internet than anywhere else in the world
and where being connected to the internetjust to take one
exampleis more expensive than anywhere else in the world.
It is the technology that is driving transformation and change.
No country can get the kind of investment in modern telecommunications
which are needed without getting some private sector investment.
We have got to bring responsible private investment into the poorest
countries if they are to get the investments in transport systems,
telecommunications, water, sanitation and so on that they need
to get the infrastructure for their economies to move forward.
There are some campaigning NGOs who want to say the private sector
should never engage, even though in our own country it is different.
I do ask them always "Look at what is happening in our own
country and what we are achieving by regulation. Do not project
one set of values on to developing countries that you would not
advocate at home" and many of them do. I do not agree that
the World Bank Strategy is all about privatising the utilities,
that is just a complete distortion. The view of my Department,
and I think the Bank agrees, is there should be this assessment
of where the interests of the investment in the economy of a poor
country lies and it should be looked at in all the different ways.
You need to go towards the private sector learning the lessons
of good regulation. Some countries have made terrible errors,
like Russia moving very fast without good regulation, regulation
is very important. It was only a couple of years back when there
was a big row in the World Bank with most of our campaigning NGOs
joining in about whether you should be in favour of redistribution
or economic growth. What a piece of absolute nonsense. We cannot
reduce poverty without economic growth. You can have responsible
economic growth just as you can have responsible private sector
investment. You know the figures for Africa: 40 per cent of its
domestic savings leave the continent, is it that way round, because
the banks are weak and they all come out into our kind of banks.
Getting the kind of improvements in savings, banking that keep
domestic savings at home, that get them reinvested in a country,
growing the local private sector and creating the conditions where
responsible foreign direct investment comes in is absolutely key
to development and the improvements in infrastructure which are
needed. Sorry about this little rant but I mean it.
39. Secretary of State, the thing about choice
is that there is an interesting paper you will see from the Public
Services International Research Unit from Greenwich
(Clare Short) Which I have never heard
of, may I say, which is making false claims, whoever they are.
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