With IMF in the picture, Sri Lanka’s public health sector faces a new crisis

Which the current economic crisis has had a disastrous impact on the health sector, the conditions that will be imposed as part of a possible IMF deal could bring about long-term structural challenges

Shriya Singh

People’s Dispatch | April 30, 2022

Photo via Newsfirst Sri Lanka

In a stalemate between the people of Sri Lanka and the government, the health sector stands on the threshold of collapse as the country runs out of essential medicines. 

The health crisis in Sri Lanka reached alarming levels this month due to an acute shortage of medicines and medical equipment in hospitals. Hospitals, doctors and unions have been putting out calls for donations on social media requesting help for essential medicines, without which several health services have already come to a halt.

Due to a shortage of anesthetic drugs, the Director-General of Health Services, Dr. Asela Gunawardena announced that all except emergency surgeries have been suspended. As of mid-April, nearly 124 medical items were out of stock, reported The Sunday Morning.

The shortage of medicines has led to hospitals being forced to re-use equipment or substitute drugs. Concerned doctors, medical officers and unions have been holding protests to demand action from the government.

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Argentina, the IMF and the Big Debt

Gustavo A. Maranges

Orinoco Tribune | March 27, 2022

Sometimes we make decisions only thinking about the immediate situation, while forgetting the repercussions they may have in the next 5-10 years. We think that it will all just work itself out. We tend to be optimistic at best, but the reality is that we are inconsistent. When it comes to the decision of an individual, the consequences of that decision rarely affects a considerable amount of people. However, when it comes to that of the government of a country, a single measure can change the lives of millions for generations to come.

Argentina is a country that knows what this means, especially when we talk about the economy. The South American country’s economic history has un-erasable footprints of Neoliberalism and the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) associated policies.

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The IMF Connection with the Ukraine Crisis

Prabhat Patnaik

THE security concerns of Russia arising from Ukraine’s intentions of joining NATO have been widely discussed in the media. But the IMF’s link with Ukraine which is a parallel issue has scarcely received much attention. The IMF, as is well-known, “opens up” economies around the world for the penetration of metropolitan capital by making them “investor-friendly” through the adoption of a host of anti-working class and anti-people (“austerity”) measures; and such “opening up” typically involves the taking over of natural resources of the countries and also their land areas by metropolitan capital. The mechanism that the IMF typically uses towards this end is the imposition of “conditionalities” for giving loans to countries that are in need of balance of payments support.

In addition, however, to this general role that the IMF plays, there are occasions when it plays a specific role, namely, that of supporting the US government’s cold war objectives. And in the case of Ukraine, it has played this specific role almost from the very beginning, apart from its general role of opening up the Ukrainian economy to metropolitan capital.

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IMF Downgrades its Growth Forecast for Asia, says Covid Still ‘Ravaging’ the Region

Countercurrents | October 25, 2021

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday downgraded its 2021 economic growth forecast for Asia after the Covid-19 delta variant caused a spike in cases in parts of the region.

The IMF said it expects Asia’s economy to grow by 6.5% in 2021, compared with its April forecast for a 7.6% expansion.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic is still ravaging the region,” the fund said in its Regional Economic Outlook report for Asia and the Pacific.

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Central Asia’s Neoliberal Tragedy: A Review

Michael Hudson

The Greanville Post | October 16, 2021

In the mid-1980s, Soviet officials saw a need to open up their economy in hope of achieving Western-style innovation and productivity. That was the decade in which Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were sponsoring the neoliberal pro-financial policies that have polarised the U.S., British and other economies and loaded them down with rentier overhead.

The Soviet Union followed a privatization policy far more extreme than anything the social-democratic West would have tolerated. It agreed in December 1990 to adopt the neoliberal blueprint presented in Houston by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to transfer hitherto public property into private hands.[1] The promise was that the privatisers would find their interest to lie in producing abundant new housing, consumer goods and prosperity.

The Soviet leaders believed that the neoliberal advice they received was about how to follow the path by which the advanced industrialised nations had developed and made their prosperity seem so attractive. But the advice actually turned out to be how to open up their economies and enable U.S. and other foreign investors to make money off the former Soviet republics, by creating client oligarchies of the sort that U.S. diplomacy had installed in Latin American and other puppet states. The Cold War’s isolation of the former Soviet Union gave way to turning its republics into prey for financial and natural-resource exploitation by U.S. and other Western banks and corporations.

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TREACHERY OF IMF

IMF and debt: a new consensus?

Michael Roberts Blog | April 15, 2021

There is much talk among ‘progressive’ economists that the IMF and the World Bank have turned over a new leaf.  Gone are the days of supporting fiscal austerity, demanding that national governments get public debt levels down and insisting on conditions for countries borrowing IMF-WB funds that their governments privatise their state assets, deregulate markets and reduce labour rights.

Now after the experience of the unprecedented COVID pandemic slump, the old ‘Washington Consensus’ is over and has been replaced by a new ‘consensus’.  Whereas the “Washington Consensus” for international economic policies of the 1990s saw government failures as the reason for poor growth performance and advised governments ‘to get out of the way’ of market forces, now the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation’s chiefs call for more fiscal spending, more funds for lending, and measures to reduce inequality between nations and within nations through higher taxes on the rich.Read More »

IMF’S HYPOCRISY 

IMF’s double standards on pandemic packages

Prabhat Patnaik

People’s Dispatch | April 04, 2021

The COVID-19 crisis has seen a very different response from the advanced countries compared with the Third World countries. The former have unrolled substantial fiscal packages for rescue and recovery while the latter have been trapped in fiscal austerity.

Among Third World countries, India’s fiscal package has been perhaps the most niggardly, amounting to no more than 1% of GDP; but even other Third World countries have not fared all that much better.Read More »

IMF AND CLIMATE CRISIS 

The IMF Smokescreen

Michael Roberts Blog | October 19, 2020

In its latest World Economic Outlook report, the IMF again tackled the issue of climate change, global warming and what to do about it.  As it did last year, the IMF recognised that climate change was a burning issue for humanity and the planet.  But this time it claimed that there were policy options that could stop any further heating to a tipping point beyond which there was no turning back.

Global emissions fell by 8.8 per cent in the first half of this year amid restrictions on movement and economic activity owing to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report.

But it’s coming back up.Read More »

IMF BLUEPRINT

IMF Seizes on Pandemic to Pave Way for Privatization in 81 Countries

Alan Macleod

MintPress News | October 12, 2020

IMF Protest Feature photo

The enormous economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic offers a unique opportunity to fundamentally alter the structure of society, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if using the crisis to implement near-permanent austerity measures across the world.

76 of the 91 loans it has negotiated with 81 nations since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic in March have come attached with demands that countries adopt measures such as deep cuts to public services and pensions — measures that will undoubtedly entail privatization, wage freezes or cuts, or the firing of public sector workers like doctors, nurses, teachers and firefighters.Read More »

The US Economy to Shrink Up to -6,6% in 2020, IMF Predicts

teleSUR | July 17, 2020

Tourists check into a hotel in Miami, Florida, U.S., July 14, 2020.
Tourists check into a hotel in Miami, Florida, U.S., July 14, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Washington needs to deploy a new fiscal stimulus proposal to speed up the economic recovery.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Friday predicted that the U.S. economy would drop to -6.6 percent by 2020 and that the unemployment rate would be 9.7 percent.

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