Peoples Forum Against the ADB

PRESS RELEASE: 7 May 2006, Hyderabad

PEOPLES FORUM: AGM SHOWS FLAWED POLICIES CONTINUE


The Peoples Forum Against ADB reacted sharply to statements made by Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram and ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda at the conclusion of the 4-day AGM conclave. Minister Chidambaram’s wish list identified increased support for the private sector, regional integration and the adoption of country systems. President Kuroda said private sector development would be the core business of the ADB, and economic growth by catalyzing investment would lead to pro-poor outcomes.

Peoples Forum representatives said the results of the AGM are almost predictable in that they intensify the ADB’s destructive development approach that has brought poverty, environmental destruction and wide spread economic displacement in Asia-Pacific?. Reducing poverty in any meaningful sense, however, seems to be a distant dream.

‘Just adding the words “pro-poor” before the word “growth” does not make an economic strategy responsive to the needs of poor, especially when this growth is achieved through projects that destroy the very resources on which the poor depend,’ said Souparna Lahiri of the Peoples’ Forum.

Critising the ADB’s regional cooperation and integration strategy, Hemantha Withanage from the NGO Forum on ADB in Manila remarked, ‘ADB and India seem to be dreaming about a seamless highway across the region in which private investors can use communities and environments as they want and then drive on.’

The Forum expessed outrage at Finance Minister Chidambaram’s recommendation that the ADB adopt a country systems approach in its safeguard policies. This implies that instead of following its own operational policies to safeguard the interests of communities affected by ADB projects, the Bank would instead pass this responsibility on to governments, thereby abdicating its own responsibilities in project governance.

‘As it is, the ADB’s safeguard policies are minimal. Abandoning even these to the whims of a government, which is driven by business interests, is alarming. This is evident in the case of the Sardar Sarovar Dam where tens of thousands of families still await basic rehabilitation years after being displaced from their lands, said Shalmali Guttal of Focus on the Global South –India. ‘Supporting private investment in energy and water infrastructure will be priority areas for the ADB. Collusion between ADB and India through a country systems approach means that projected affected communities can expect more Sardar Sarovar like experiences in the future.’

The Peoples Forum will continue to monitor the ADB’s overall strategy and projects in India and the Asia Pacific region to highlight their adverse impacts on communities and the environment.

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For more information or to arrange an interview with any members of the Peoples Forum against the ADB, please call Benny Kuruvilla (bennyk@focusweb.org) (91-9820181191) or Ravi Rebbapragada (91-9848195937)