How Suitable Are The Current Provisions Of Structural Adjustment Programmes?

3117 words - 12 pages

How suitable are the current provisions of Structural Adjustment Programmes? There are many schools of thought on the policies of the IMF. Some leagues believe that it has the world's most difficult job, and perform it in the most non-political, impartial way possible; others consider it to be the new evil of world domination. Structural adjustment and the policies that coincide with it have been developed by the worlds greatest economic minds. The plans are designed to decrease national debt and to compel the country to function independently. However, these programmes have come under considerable scrutiny in the past 20 years for their indiscriminate approach to restoring economic harmony. They are continually perceived to be the architects of the appalling poverty the third world faces. This paper will examine the structural adjustment policies of the IMF and assess their relevance and consequences on the worlds poorest people focussing on the African continent.In 1944, the Allied countries met for the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to establish a system of fixed exchange rates in hopes of regenerating international trade flows after the war. Following the collapse of the gold standard in World War I and the depression that began in 1929, the western allies sought to establish a monetary system that would provide the same international monetary stability attained under the gold standard. The meeting also resulted in the establishment of the IMF and the World Bank, "˜twin intergovernmental pillars supporting the structure of the world's economic and financial order' (IMF 2000, p1).Both of these agencies were created to control constancy in international monetary affairs and to smooth the progress of the expansion of world trade. The World Bank was given authority over long-term financing for impoverished nations, while the IMF's role was to supervise exchange rates, supply short-term financing for balance of payments adjustments, provide a medium for discussion about international monetary concerns, and provide technical assistance to member countries. These functions are still generally true of both organizations, however, the policies determining how they are carried out have gradually been customised and augmented (IMF/ER 1997, p1).Prior to the onset of the world debt crisis, the IMF was at ease in its advisory and assistance provider role. However, when Mexico defaulted on their loan in 1982, they were required to broaden their scope and discern how to recover funds while getting the country on its feet. In 1986 the IMF created the Structural Adjustment Facility (SAF) to assist the most desperate countries in paying debt service and in 1987 it was extended to ESAF, Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility . Unlike other IMF programmes, which lent at market rates, ESAF offered low interest rates of 0.5% and repayment terms of five and a half to ten years. Clearly, the operative...

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