Over 500 organisations and academics around the world call on IMF to stop promoting austerity in the Coronavirus recovery period

Over 500 organisations and academics around the world call on IMF to stop promoting austerity in the Coronavirus recovery period

We, the undersigned, call on the IMF to immediately stop promoting austerity around the world, and instead advocate policies that advance gender justice, reduce inequality, and decisively put people and planet first.

As those who care about governments’ ability to fulfil human rights and advance progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, we express the utmost alarm at the IMF’s advice for countries to return to austerity once the current crisis recedes. This pandemic has laid bare the deadly repercussions of systematically weak investments in health, education and social protection, hardest felt by marginalized populations including women, older people, racial and ethnic minorities, informal workers and low-income families. This crisis has also shone light on the shrinking of the middle classes and worsening gap between rich and poor.

The IMF has spoken repeatedly of the need for a fair and green recovery. It has said that economic and gender inequality, climate change, and poor governance can weaken growth and undermine stability. In recent years, it developed operational guidance for staff on embedding gender and economic inequality analysis into its work and approved a macroeconomic framework for social spending. All of this would suggest that the IMF is ready to use its influence and authority to support countries in reducing inequality.

And yet, despite this rhetoric and its own warnings of deepening inequality, the IMF has already started locking countries into new long-term austerity-conditioned loan programs in the past few months. Beyond the conditionality in these recent programs, we note that a significant number of the IMF’s COVID-19 emergency financing packages contain language promoting fiscal consolidation in the recovery phase. And with governments struggling to pay increased debt servicing and expected to continue to need extraordinary levels of external financing for years to come, IMF loan programs – and the conditions that accompany them – will play a highly influential role in shaping the economic and social landscape in the aftermath of this pandemic.

Fiscal consolidation driven austerity would only worsen poverty and inequality and undermine the achievement of economic and social rights. The IMF’s own research corroborates this. Time and time again, rigid and rapid fiscal consolidation conditioned in IMF programs has meant devastating cuts in health and education investments, losses of hard-earned pensions and social protections, public wage freezes, layoffs, and exacerbated unpaid care work burdens. In all cases, it is the most vulnerable people in societies who bear the brunt of these reforms, while the elite, large corporations and creditors enjoy the benefits. Aside from the direct impacts, fiscal consolidation doesn’t ensure economic recovery and the creation of new jobs, and rapid consolidation could instead deepen the downturn. It won’t deliver a just transition towards climate resilient economies either.

Instead of austerity cuts, it is critical to create fiscal space and give governments the time, flexibility and support to achieve a sustainable, inclusive and just recovery. Immediate and urgent steps are needed to support the financial health of countries through grants and other highly concessional financing, supporting debt cancellation and restructuring, and issuing a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights. Medium to longer term recovery efforts, however, should continue promoting further fiscal and policy space that allows for an increase, rather than a decrease, in social spending, and progressive tax policies that collect sufficient revenue and redistribute wealth fairly.

This means systematically assessing the impacts of fiscal policy reforms on gender and economic inequality and rejecting those that have negative social impacts. It means negotiating agreements transparently with input from a range of stakeholders including civil society through national social dialogue. It means recommending and promoting progressive tax reforms such as taxes on wealth and the excess profits of large corporations, meaningfully combatting tax evasion, avoidance and illicit financial flows. And it means systematically supporting governments to restructure their debts so that they can prioritize investments in quality public services.

The global economy stands at a crossroads between further decades of austerity and debt crises, or adopting a macroeconomic framework compatible with fighting inequality, pursuing climate justice, realizing human rights and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Ahead of the 2020 IMF Annual Meetings, we call on the IMF to turn away from the mistakes of the past and finally close the dark chapter on IMF-conditioned austerity for good.


IMF and Austerity statement – Social media guidelines

Date for action: 6 October (launch day) plus w/o 12 October (Annual Meetings)

Campaign hashtag that all related tweets should use:

English #EndAusterity
Spanish #NoMasAusteridad
French #SortirDelAusterite
Arabic #انهاء_سياسات_التقشف

Other related hashtags:

  • #Covid19
  • #IMFMeetings
  • #CancelTheDebt
  • #FightInequality

If you are running any related campaigns, feel free to use the relevant hashtag in tweets to combine the two and strengthen the call to the IMF.

Campaign targets:

English @IMFnews
Spanish @FMInoticias
French @FMIactualites




Tips for tweets: 

  • Try to tag the IMF either in a sentence where you are calling them to action or calling them out on their current promotion of austerity policies. This is more powerful to third parties reading the tweets, than simply cc. them at the end of the tweet
  • Remember to leave at least 24 characters for the URL in your tweet (23 for the URL itself & 1 for a space)
  • Twitter’s algorithm prefers tweets containing images or video. Wherever possible, try to include an image and don’t forget to tag relevant allied organisations in the image to improve engagement with your tweet.
    • Image ideas can be
      • A simple quote tweet (if you don’t have image editing software, Pixlr or Canva offer free online tools)
      • A photo of previous actions addressing austerity/ debt issues/ campaigns against the IMF
    • The general public don’t really know what the IMF does. They have heard of the organisation and maybe some vague rumours, but that is about it. Clear, direct language which simply sets out the context and our asks is often the best way to get non-invested Twitter users to care (and RT). If they want to know more, they can get more info via the link.
    • You can use http://bit.ly to shorten your links and track click throughs from your post

Example tweets:

  • More than 500 orgs and academics are calling for @IMFNews to #EndAusterity and put people and planet first : @awcmena https://bit.ly/34vZFwc 
  • @awcmena has joined 500+ other orgs/academics to demand that @IMFNews #EndAusterity and instead help our countries reduce #gender & economic inequality as part of the #Covid19 recovery : https://bit.ly/34vZFwc
  • It is time to #EndAusterity and forge a new path that puts people and planet first. @IMFNews must STOP 🛑 promoting these destructive measures @awcmena https://bit.ly/34vZFwc
  • 100+ countries have requested emergency financing from @IMFNews for #Covid19. In many cases, these packages are being used to promote #austerity, leading to devastating #health, #education & #socialprotection cuts. It is time for the IMF to #EndAusterity @awcmena https://bit.ly/34vZFwc
  • IMF-imposed #austerity policies have repeatedly led to worsening quality of life for the most vulnerable in society, undermining the achievement of the #GlobalGoals. With the global economy now at a crossroads, we’re calling on @IMFNews to #EndAusterity.@awcmena  https://bit.ly/34vZFwc

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