This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program, IN THENEWS.
The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are holding theiryearly meetings in Washington. Representatives from more thanone-hundred-eighty countries have gathered for the talks. They planto discuss debt forgiveness for developing countries, economicdevelopment and the world economy.
Some groups have organizedprotests against the financial organizations. Others want to protestAmerican foreign policy. Washington police say they expect as manyas twenty-thousand demonstrators. Three-thousand police officershave been deployed in the city to keep order. Hundreds of peoplewere arrested during similar demonstrations at the I-M-F and WorldBank meetings in April of two-thousand.
The United States and its allies created the I-M-F and the WorldBank after World War Two. The two organizations control thousands ofmillions of dollars in assistance. The I-M-F and the World Bank havea close relationship but different responsibilities.
The main job of the International Monetary Fund is to supportworld economic growth. It provides loans to countries dealing withshort-term difficulties. The I-M-F often requires that countriesmake economic reforms in exchange for the loans. Some of therequired reforms are unpopular. I-M-F officials also advise onfinancial policy.
The World Bank provides loans to governments and privateorganizations for development projects. These include projects tobuild or improve transportation, health and education systems. TheWorld Bank is the leading provider of such assistance. It also makesloans to reform the structure of national economic systems.
I-M-F and World Bank opponents say the two organizationsrepresent the interests of big business and the very rich. Theopponents say World Bank development projects usually include moneyto pay for materials and technical help from industrial nations.They say it would be better to support projects in which materialsand technical support could be found locally. Protesters also arguethat I-M-F lending policies have made conditions worse in developingcountries. Opponents say the activities of both organizations havedamaged the environment.
A recent United Nations report also criticizes policies supportedby I-M-F and World Bank officials. The U-N Trade and Developmentagency report says those policies may have increased poverty inAfrica instead of reducing it. It says the number of people livingon less than one dollar a day in Africa's poorest nations has risenby more than ten percent over the past thirty years.
A writer of the U-N report, Yilmaz Akyuz, says the main reasonfor the rise may be the structural reform policies that thefinancial organizations support. He says the International MonetaryFund and World Bank urgently need to change their policies.
This VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS, was written byCaty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.