G20 leaders released a communiqué Thursday on their goals, plans and promises to deal with the global economic crisis. That communiqué will be closely studied and analyzed to get a clear picture of the agreements reached by the G20 leaders
Claire Melamed, head of policy for ActionAid, is attending the G20 summit in London, and spoke to VOA about the final statement.
"One of the things we're looking for are the big numbers. What are the amounts of money that are going to be promised to developing countries to help them through this crisis. Now, it's going to be quite a difficult job to track down actually what is being promised. There are going to be lots of big numbers, you know, in the hundreds of billions, flying about. But it's going to be quite difficult to decipher from the communiqué what is new money and what is aid that was previously promised and it's just being redirected. And how long developing countries are going to have to wait for this money and what strings are going to be attached. What they're going to have to do in return for the money that's promised," she says.
Asked why it's difficult to distinguish new aid from old, Melamed says, "It's an old trick of governments. They like to make big promises. You know, you get a sort of competitive bidding process…where everyone likes to come up with the biggest number that they can to sort of showcase their generosity in front of the other heads of state. But often this is money which in fact was already in the aid budget and it's just now being promised to a slightly different fund or different institution. But often it's not actually new money."
ActionAid would consider the G20 summit a success if leaders ensured enough aid to help poor countries weather the economic crisis. "What we think developing countries need is something over $300 billion a year for the duration of the crisis. And that is roughly the amount of growth that the IMF (International Monetary Fund) says developing countries are going to lose as a result of this crisis. So, effectively it means that just to stand still, just to stay in the same place as they were before the crisis hit, developing countries are going to need commitments from the international community of something around $300 billion a year," she says.
There's been much criticism of the IMF of late from those who say that it, along with the World Bank, need to be reformed to deal with 21st Century problems. The IMF has been accused of attaching too many conditions to its loans, causing countries to seek financing elsewhere, such as China. Melamed says that the idea of reform may not be far-fetched.
"It is quite interesting. I've been in two press conferences this morning with members of the UK government and both of them have been talking quite openly about the stigma that's attached to getting funds from the IMF for developing countries and really being quite critical of the IMF. Certainly more so than I've heard before. So, that does give me some hope," she says.
Melamed says that if the summit communiqué mentions IMF reforms, it will most likely be a "statement of intent" that there will be some reforms in the next two years.
The ActionAid policy chief views any
summit promises with a skeptical eye, saying that many promises may at the 2005
G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland still have not been fulfilled.