Today, an alliance of ten rights organizations, organized a protest demonstration and human chain against the role of the IFIs, especially of the ADB, in the privatization of essential services The rights group includes AMKS, DORA, Krishani Sohova, EquityBD, LEAD Trust , LaVia Campesina Bangladesh, MFTD, Online Knowledge Center , PRADIP and RCSV.
The alliance, led by Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh, organized this protest in front of the National Press Club, Dhaka during 43rd Annual Governors Meeting of ADB in Taskent, Uzbekistan as swsthis meeting highlighted the major role of the ADB in privatizing water, power, and other essential services in the region. The rights group across Asia declared May 4 as the Asian Day of Action against Privatization of Essential Services and organized similar protest actions also in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and Pakistan while they raised critique and opposed ADB’s role in the privatization of essential services.
In a written press statement, secretary general of EquityBD, Md Shmasuddoha, said that ADB and allied international financial institutions are trying to promote corporatization and commercialization of essential service sector sector, especially commercialization of health, agriculture, energy and water sector. He explained that the ADB’s approach to essential services is “to ensure full-cost recovery plus profits combined with placing the private sector at the helm.” “To illustrate, for the US$50-million urban water supply sector reform of Dhaka, the bank requires that the water utility be run as a commercial enterprise and as a consequence, water tariffs are expected to increase by 200% from current levels in nine years.”
Millions of impoverished and marginalized people living in the urban slums have much less access to safe, clean fresh water thus the sharp increases in the cost of service resulting from privatization would create ‘state of inhumanity’ in the urban cities.
Mustafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD said that we are seeing the result of the commercialization of agricultural inputs, especially of seeds, that made farmers completely dependent on multinational seed companies and made agriculture system costly and unsustainable wherein 70 percent of country’s workforce employed..
Firoze Ahmed of Lead Trust said that since the establishment of the IFIs, these institutions are imposing privatization conditionalities to the poor countries as the pre-condition of having loan support. Although ADB in its own definition characterized poverty as the deprivation of access to essential goods but the activities and policies of this institution restraining poor peoples’ access to the essential services through promoting privatization. In fact, ADB financing in Bangladesh does not consider this humanistic aspect of poverty, he added.
Fayed Ahmed of said, as we see, since a few decades of development financing of the IFIs, the pace of poverty alleviation is frustrating; 41 percent of country’s population lives on less than one dollar a day, and a staggering 84 percent live on less than two dollars a day. In fact, ADB neither financing in the public service sectors e.g. health, education, agriculture etc. nor allowing government to finance these sectors, which is increasing poverty and economic disparity.