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.
The UK was one of the first countries to develop PPPs in the early 1990s, and its PPP programme, known as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), subsequently expanded across all parts of public spending including healthcare, education and the military.
This briefing by Jubilee Debt Campaign sets out the major problems and risks the UK has encountered through its extensive experiment with PPPs.
However, the UK government and companies are now heavily promoting PPPs around the world. In recent years, more than 90 countries around the world have passed laws relating to or enabling PPPs to be taken on.
New report: Who Makes the Rules on Illicit Financial Flows highlights six often overlooked institutions that play a role in developing global financial transparency measures. The brief introduces these institutions, which are generally unknown to the public despite their power in setting global norms. The piece concludes with options to make these bodies more inclusive so that global norms and standards are developed with all countries in mind, rather than just those at the decision making table.
(VI Congreso Red Española de Políticas sociales, Sevilla 16-17 February 2017)
In the current period of uncertainty and anxiety for the future, it gives confidence to look back at the not so far away past, in order to see what was possible then and what has been real only fifty years ago: national social pacts within developing welfare states in the North and global agreements on the need for social progress in the South. It is also good to remember that it is not the recent crisis of 2008 that has put an end to these pacts and agreements. Indeed, the real turn came with the crisis of the 1970s and the ‘structural adjustment’ programmes in the South from the 1980s onward. More recently and everywhere, social protection acquired a new meaning, aimed at ‘human capital’, protecting the most vulnerable while promoting markets and growth. What is new today, is that we are also faced with fundamental changes in modes of production and consequently changes on the labour markets. While several innovative proposals for social protection are being made, the need for a new and global social pact in order to promote the sustainability of life, for humans and for nature, is particularly urgent.
A couple of days ago, I received the most recent newsletter of BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network). As always, this is very interesting literature, though one must read it with one major fact in mind: the network does not necessarily communicate about basic income … it talks about ‘basic income’ (for all, rich and poor) but almost all the items concern guaranteed minimum incomes (for those who need it).
There is a very obvious reason for this: nowhere in the world has a basic income been introduced. Of course, there are the always repeated examples of one poor village in Namibia, there are the ‘pilots’ in India, but these concern poor people and the money they get is hardly sufficient to survive.
A new protectionist device is being planned in the United States that could devastate the exports of developing countries and cause American and other foreign companies to relocate. The complexities and implications of the proposed border adjustment tax are explained in this article. A version of this article was published by IPS. A second article on this issue will be published soon.
A new and deadly form of protectionism is being considered by Congress leaders and the President of the United States that could have devastating effect on the exports and investments of American trading partners, especially the developing countries.
The plan, known as a border adjustment tax, would have the effect of taxing imports of goods and services that enter the United States, while also providing a subsidy for US exports which would be exempted from the tax.
The aim is to improve the competitiveness of US products, drastically reduce the country’s imports while promoting its exports, and thus narrow the huge US trade deficit.
IFC investments in FIs supported at least 41 coal power plants since 2013
Investments contravene 2013 Bank policy on coal, contribute to climate change and deforestation
Lack of disclosure on FI sub-projects continues to deprive communities access to grievance mechanism
The negative development impact of the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm) investments in financial intermediaries (FIs) has once again been brought to light (see Observer Spring 2014). An October 2016 report, Disaster for us and the planet, by US-based NGO Inclusive Development International (IDI) and partners, provided evidence that “IFC-supported financial institutions have funded at least 41 new coal projects … since the World Bank announced its coal ban in 2013”. While the IFC has claimed that the concerns of civil society organisations have largely been addressed through its response to previously highlighted harmful projects that it funds, the report demonstrates that the IFC remains exposed to highly damaging projects.
In 2013 Mozambican government officials formed three private companies and took out illegal secret loans totaling $2 billion. Donors suspended credit to Mozambique because of the loans as the national currency fell by 70% in 2016. Restructuring the illegal loans means imposed austerity on a population already living in extreme austerity and eventually repaying the creditors from revenues derived from Mozambique’s natural gas deposits that on the market in 2023.