The annual public letter from Bill and Melinda Gates has become a much-celebrated event in the global development calendar. But lost in the excitement around this year’s letter is the fact that it uses 6,000 words to paint a picture that is so selective in its use of facts that it amounts to little more than propaganda for a failing aid and development industry, and indeed a failing ideology.
And the 2017 letter is especially striking for just how out-of-sync it feels with the zeitgeist.
Government external debt payments reach highest level in the last decade following commodity price falls and rising value of the US dollar
Figures released before US Federal Reserve meeting where interest rates are expected to be increased again, which will push debt payments higher
Figures released today by the Jubilee Debt Campaign, based on IMF and World Bank databases, show that developing country debt payments increased by 45% between 2014 and 2016 . They are now at the highest level since 2007.
New evidence is deepening scientific fears, advanced few years ago, that the Middle East and North Africa risk becoming uninhabitable in a few decades, as accessible fresh water has fallen by two-thirds over the past 40 years.
This sharp water scarcity simply not only affects the already precarious provision of drinking water for most of the region’s 22 countries, home to nearly 400 million inhabitants, but also the availability of water for agriculture and food production for a fast growing population.
A new issue of the South Bulletin places a focus on the US “border adjustment” tax being planned, a new protectionist device that could devastate the exports of developing countries and cause American and other foreign companies to relocate.
Recent disturbing trends in international finance have particularly problematic implications, especially for developing countries. The recently released United Nations report, World Economic Situation and Prospects 2017 (WESP 2017) is the only recent report of a multilateral inter-governmental organization to recognize these problems, especially as they are relevant to the financing requirements for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Corporate tax has fallen dramatically (tens of percent) in most countries. In addition, large multinational companies engage in aggressive tax planning, which further reduces tax revenues by at least a hundred billion euros a year in the EU. The EU has not been of any assistance in overcoming the tax war between member states. If anything, the tax “competition” has been more severe in Europe than elsewhere or globally. At the same time the EU itself is in a legitimation crisis and its disintegration threatens to continue. The EU would need full fiscal capacity and proper fiscal policies in order to improve economic developments and make a real and positive difference to the lives of its citizens. A common European corporate tax could be an opportunity to hit two birds with one stone.
In order for Africa to assume responsibility for its own transformation and elevation, and be able to undertake self-reliant development and create secure domestic prosperity, it must create its own specific ideology and strategy of self-development. To do this there are 5 irreducible components that have to be designed and put in place.
In the period since independence in the 1950s, Africa has undergone profound social, cultural, economic and political changes. Some inherited and historically rootless colonialist political and social systems have collapsed, been transcended and reconstituted. Different political systems – single party rule, personal rule and military governments - have come and gone. New post-independence political and social systems, economic institutions, professional associations and labour unions, various types - traditional and new - and varied cultural expressions have all emerged. Creative efforts to foster effective nation-building, develop a sense of belonging and manage diversity productively have also been made.
There’s nothing novel these days about pointing out the ways in which the Trump administration is departing from a norm. But there’s been surprisingly little attention paid to the unusual timing and nature of White House comments about the federal budget this week. The fact is, the administration is still deep in the internal negotiation process with federal agencies over what will ultimately be the president’s budget submission to Congress sometime this spring. So when White House officials decided to talk publicly about just a few elements of that budget this week—a big boost in defense spending and big cuts for EPA, the State Department, and foreign assistance—they did so for political reasons, making a direct case to voters devoid of any clearly stated policy rationale.
The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) aims to promote greater private sector engagement in development by allowing Official Development Assistance (ODA) to be channelled through a wide range of “private sector instruments” (PSI). This means aid to invest in or give loans to private companies, or to underwrite their activities through guarantees. We believe that these proposals are arguably the biggest change to ODA rules for several decades.
Key recommendations from Civil Society Organisations:
The ITUC has expressed strong support to the efforts by its French affiliates to defend the new law requiring French multinational companies to establish vigilance plans to avoid and remediate violations of fundamental rights and environmental standards throughout their supply chains and operations. Two days after the adoption of the law on 21 February, Members and Senators from the Republican Party, backed by employer organisation MEDEF, referred the issue to France’s Constitutional Council claiming that the law is unconstitutional.
End violence against women, invest in the care economy, close the pay gap!
The surge in populist misogyny threatens to reverse progress towards gender equality and women’s autonomy – from austerity and privatisation of public care services to increasingly precarious and informal work, from a resurgence in patriarchal attitudes to attacks on women’s reproductive and sexual health and rights.
It’s time to organise. And women are rising to the challenge.