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World Bank: Transparency does not mean publicity

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th January 2009 03:00 AM

THIS is a response to World Bank, Communication Specialist, Steven Shalita’s article “World Bank did not halt distribution of free bulbs” (The New Vision January 19, 2009). Historically, justifications of abominable policies dates to the Bibl

THIS is a response to World Bank, Communication Specialist, Steven Shalita’s article “World Bank did not halt distribution of free bulbs” (The New Vision January 19, 2009). Historically, justifications of abominable policies dates to the Bibl

Teddy Ssezi Cheeye

THIS is a response to World Bank, Communication Specialist, Steven Shalita’s article “World Bank did not halt distribution of free bulbs” (The New Vision January 19, 2009). Historically, justifications of abominable policies dates to the Biblical days when St.Thomas Aquinas defended prostitution in towns at a period when many leaders wanted it banned.

St Thomas Aquinas said “Prostitution in towns is like the cesspool (sewage pit) in palace: take a way the cesspool and the palace will become unclean and evil smelling”. Similarly, according to World Bank (Shalita is just a spokes person), if governments of poor countries forbid World Bank officials from self-styling themselves into official spokespersons on economic and political issues regarding their aid, then World Bank aid industry would be jeopardised.

It is important to note that the World Bank response was directed at my article. Ibrahim Kasita’s first article was written on December 31, 2008, and the World Bank did not see the need to respond to it. I reacted to Kasita’s article after 14 days, and the World Bank reacted to my article on the same day.

The gist of the World Bank’s message is that Cheeye does not understand how the World Bank operates in transparent manner; that there is nothing confidential about the World Bank-Government energy saving bulbs deal; and that all the information is available on the World Bank website.

I have five issues here:
  • Everyday, both public and private institutions operate in transparent methods. Commercial banks give loans after going through transparent verification exercises, yet commercial bank managers do not publicize confidential details about loans they give out.
    Commercial bank loans-related information is not all that confidential. It is accessible by those mandated to access it. Financial transparent issues are restricted to those who are supposed to know. Putting information on a website does not mean that the information is public, because only those who are interested in it will surf for it.
    What I find deceitful is for the IMF/World Bank officials to self-style themselves into official Government spokespersons on economic issues when we have mandated Government institutions to do so.

  • Both the IMF and World Bank thrive in situations when countries are under shock, like just coming out of destructive wars.
    These institutions thrive when a country’s cream of patriotic experts have either been wiped out or are in exile. (See Naomi Klein: “The Shock Doctrine; The rise of disaster capitalism” Penguin Books, 2008).
    This was the case with Uganda. When NRM had just come in power, these two institutions descended on us like vultures and took advantage of the weakness of the young revolution to impose all sort of dubious economic policies.
    In fact this situation is properly acknowledged, by President Yoweri Museveni. Writing in his book “Sowing the Mustard Seed” (Page 180/181), the President said “ I think where the IMF helped us was in making us realise the importance of macro-economics tools, such as letting prices find their own level.
    This was something many of our people did not understand at first”. Further more President Museveni wrote “When we internalised the means of stimulating growth, then we were able to move forward and we signed our first framework paper (with IMF/World Bank) in mid 1987”.
    It is during that period when states have withered a way that IMF and World Bank assigns themselves the role of being the official Government spokespersons on economic issues. Uganda of today is not like Iraq or Afghanistan.
    After 22 years, we have patriotic Ugandans who have Masters Degrees and PhDs in macroeconomics, and understand the correct policies which IMF and World Bank deliberately omitted in their lectures to the young NRM officials then.

  • Both the IMF and World Bank do not have the will to commit sufficient capital to kick start the economies of poor African countries.
    Helpful financial aid should be big and given in short period; The Marshal aid of $100b which helped construct Europe after World War Two was given in short period of between three and five years.
    That is why German took off after only 15 years. In Europe now, central banks are injecting trillions of newly printed bank notes in various institutions in short time.
    IMF recently gave one European country $20b to sort out the threatening recession.
    Long term small doses of aid lead to the dependency syndrome. Indeed when Bill Clinton took over, he abolished or reformed long term welfare systems which had created dependency syndrome.

  • By assigning themselves the role of official spokespersons, both the IMF and the World Bank want to perpetually inflict pain on the psychology of our people: The Government is so hopeless that it can not even afford to buy 800,000 energy saving bulbs, and that is why Government borrowed $600,000 (shs1.2b) from us (World Bank).
    The Government is so hopeless that it cannot even distribute 200,000 bulbs without World Bank technical supervision! What sort of modalities takes two years for a simple exercise of distributing 200,000 bulbs, which the World Bank is talking about?

  • The intentions of IMF/World Bank announcements of confidential economic issues is to undermine the essential values of financial confidentiality and politicise their so-called aid, with intention of weakening governments of poor countries.

  • The writer is a director,
    economic affairs & monitoring,
    Office of the President (ISO)

    World Bank: Transparency does not mean publicity

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