50 Years Is Enough: The Case against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

By Kevin Danaher | Go to book overview

section IV

26
Internal Report Card Looks Bad for
Structural Adjustments

Cameron Duncan

A confidential World Bank report on structural adjustment suggests that the short-term impacts could endanger the long-term success of adjustment efforts. According to the report, expected increases in the efficiency and growth rates of economies currently undergoing adjustment have failed to materialize, with two thirds of the countries experiencing declines in both public and private sector investment.

The report, entitled World Bank Structural and Sectoral Adjustment Operations, was prepared in June 1992 by the Bank's Operations Evaluation Department. It reviews project completion reports through 1991 for 99 structural adjustment loans in 42 countries. Economic recovery under adjustment programs is particularly sluggish in Africa. In the 18 sub-Saharan African countries reviewed, no less than 14 had experienced a fall in investment rates during adjustment.

For the Bank's adjustment-related technical assistance loans, 60 percent of which were implemented in African countries, the news is also bad. According to the report, "less than 20 percent of these operations were substantially effective, and 15 percent had only negligible impact."

While the Bank report emphasizes that "the social impact of adjustment has not been uniform," with differences between countries, it does acknowledge that "income inequality in rural areas appears to have gone up in some countries, as landless farm workers bear the greater burden of higher food prices."

Case studies of the social impact of adjustment are presented for Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica and the Philippines. Adjustment in Cote d'Ivoire had the most severe impact on the poor. The report says that

poverty increased by 4.8 percent a year during 1980-85, and hard-core poverty by 7.9 percent a year. The urban poor were the hardest hit because of both unemployment

-135-

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