Marrakech Working Group Launchs its first statement

More than 70 organizations from the MENA region and the world launch a statement today calling the IMF and the World Bank to cancel the debt and End austerity policies. This statement is issued by the Marrakech Working Group, composed of individuals and organizations from the MENA region.


“The 2023 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to be held in Marrakech, offer a golden opportunity for civil society organizations in the Middle East and North Africa and the countries of the global south to make their voices heard regarding the crisis suffered by the people, as they will also prove the detrimental impact of decades-long dictates by different international financial institutions (IFIs).

Major international financial institutions exert tremendous influence on public economic policies in middle eastern and north African countries as the IMF and the World Bank reshaped these policies through structural adjustments, forcing many governments to adopt harsh liberal policies. As was the case with countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, structural reform plans in the Middle East and North Africa took an imposed path of economic openness, higher competition through free trade, and a more flexible labor market to create more jobs. This paved the way to the implementation of painful policies, such as privatization, state budget austerity, dismantled social protection, lower taxes on the rich and big corporations under the guise of promoting competitiveness. 

To different extents, this neoliberal approach led many countries in the region to fall prey to indebtedness and rising inequalities, triggering higher extreme poverty rates during the last decade, worsened by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russian-Ukrainian war. 

As a direct fallout of austerity measures, the public sector fell short of offering adequate public services. Instead, governments rushed to deepening its indebtedness to respond to the pandemic and other crises. 

To meet the need for financing, the IMF allocated in 2021 the largest special drawing rights (SDRs) in its history totaling $650 billion, saying this would help most vulnerable countries to deal with the crises. However, the distribution of these SDRs was unfair, as Saudi Arabia received $13 billion, whereas the world’s most fragile economies received a tiny portion that was not enough to help them respond to social, economic and environmental emergencies, let alone fund their national economic recovery plans. 

To respond to the global crises, on top of which is Climate Change, the World Bank Group proposed an evolution roadmap that would massively increase its loans to the public and private sectors. However, this roadmap did not include the necessity to develop a stronger accountability system to fit the expected increase in its portfolio and the remedial actions for the communities that might be impacted by it. The roadmap also did not include the closing of civic space in the list of the global crises that threaten the development processes.

In this respect, the CSOs Working Group – composed of 30 civil society organizations from the Middle East and North Africa, in addition to the undersigned international partners- urge the IMF and the World Bank to: 

  • Put an end to unfair neoliberal policies which they have been imposing for decades, on top of which austerity measures;
  • Cancel external debt on low and middle-income countries in the region;
  • Cancel surcharges policy and high rate loans;
  • Allocate new special drawing rights;
  • Develop adequate and implement tangible solutions to the crises that are threatening the livelihoods of millions, including climate change and food insecurity;
  • Adopt fair climate policies in line with multilateral environmental agreements that breakaway with indebtedness and unfair austerity measures;
  • Stop financing immediately fossil fuel and gas extraction projects and ensure a just energetic transition; 
  • Engage with citizens and civil society organizations in consultations to develop the programs and projects that have direct and indirect impacts on their lives;
  • Abide by transparency and ensure access to information;
  • Review the governance policies and the accountability mechanisms
  • Adopt a fair quota system
  • Review the economic policies that resulted in deepening economic disparities and social inequalities in indebted countries;
  • Offer more support to programs and projects aiming to improve the economic and social conditions of vulnerable social groups, such as women, the youth, the disabled, the poor and rural communities.
  • Ensure the provision of just remedies to the communities harmed by their investments
  • Address the closing civic space crisis that impedes the effective citizen engagement needed for any development plan to be successful.

The undersigned organizations and individuals also call on the IMF and the World Bank to ensure early registration to attend the Annual Meetings and the side events and to facilitate accreditations in order to enable participants to apply for visas of the host country. They also urge the IMF and the World Bank to guarantee their protection of civil society organizations and individuals against any potential human rights violations during the event. “





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