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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 [2]. They are now at the highest level since 2007.

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.

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.

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).


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