House of Commons Issue No. 16 Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Standing Committee on Foreign and International Trade
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HOUSE OF COMMONS CANADA

From Bretton Woods to Halifax and Beyond:
Towards a 21st Summit for the 21st Century Challenge

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CHAPTER FOUR - REFORMING THE IFIS' POLICY FRAMEWORKS:
ACCENTUATING POVERTY REDUCTION AND SUSTAINABLE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

2. TOWARDS A HALIFAX PROGRAMME OF ACTION

The Committee believes that Bretton Woods reform must not only work to produce a cleaner and more accountable structure of international financial institutions, it must also seek to rebuild confidence that they are worth having as efficient vehicles, working with the private sector, for the productive deployment of global savings. That can only be done through proving, and improving, their effective contribution to achieving global public purposes, particularly in the most problematic areas of poverty reduction and supporting development that is environmentally sustainable and builds human capacities. It means that the IFIs must continue to re-examine their policy frameworks notably on "structural adjustment" from that standpoint, and to work more closely with NGOs and other partners in the development process. Policy conditions are obviously necessary but their determination needs to be a matter for constructive practical dialogue. Earlier we argued that Halifax was important as an opportunity for political leadership. The challenge in terms of making better global use of the IFIs will be to come out of the summit with words of resolve on policies that are then followed up in practice with the appropriate deeds. Reflecting on the understandable disappointment with the lack of results from the March World Summit on Social Development, David Preston of the Department of Foreign Affairs put the matter to us in sobering terms:

There were no new commitments to resources. There was no immediate prospect of relief of debt. It appeared that the developed countries were trying to impose new conditionalities on developing countries.

The challenge for IFI reform and Halifax will be to try to get out the message that there is still a strong commitment to the poor, and we're trying to address that question through IFI reform. . . .

What do we have to offer to the poor through this process? Are we merely tinkering with machinery in the IMF or are we doing something more substantial so we can demonstrate to the poorest countries that this is really in their interest as well as our own in terms of conserving resources? [18:11]

Accordingly, the Committee recommends that Canada propose to G-7 leaders at the June Summit, a "Halifax Programme of Action on Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Human Development". This Programme should outline a series of reforms to the policies of Bretton Woods institutions and should commit the G-7 to using their collective influence within the IFIs to achieve results in the following areas in particular:

Again, we are certainly not in a position to claim to have a definitive or comprehensive blueprint for the above. However, we believe that under these themes a number of important issues should be addressed in any reform of IFI policies if they are to result in effective changes that will benefit poor people and the environment.

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