Christian Aid and Celebrities Urge UK Government to Cut Poverty

|TOP|Christian Aid campaigners and a group of celebrities will march past the Treasury, 14 September, to urge the UK government to cut funds to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The rally will mainly call for the institutions to reform and stop pursuing damaging policies that harm poor people in developing countries.

Musician Ronan Keating and actors Damien Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite and Adjoa Andoh will be speaking at the event, which is timed to coincide with World Bank and IMF meetings in Singapore which will be attended by Gordon Brown.

Ronan and Damien have travelled with Christian Aid to Ghana and Bolivia respectively to see the negative effects that enforced liberalisation have had on the agricultural sector and access to clean water.

Ronan Keating said: “I met Ghanaian chicken farmers who, under pressure from cheap frozen imports from Europe, are struggling.

|AD|“The government in Ghana, like governments in many developing countries, is not allowed to help its farmers with subsidies, or protect its own chicken market with higher tariffs on imports.

“When they did try, the IMF put pressure on the government to back down. This is just one example of how institutions like the IMF and World Bank use their muscle to impose policies on poor countries.”

One of the successes of the Make Poverty History campaign last year, of which Christian Aid was a leading member, was that Tony Blair announced the UK would no longer force poor countries to implement controversial economic policies in return for aid.

Anna Thomas, policy manager at Christian Aid, said: “The IMF and World Bank are insisting on pursuing anti-poor policies.

“The UK needs to cut funding until they reform. Imagine what life would be like if you had to run every decision you made by your bank manager, and if he or she didn’t like it you’d have to change it.

“This is the reality for many poor countries - and they can’t just switch accounts. In return for loans they have to surrender the right to decide their own policies. The poor end up paying the price.”

Christian Aid is encouraging tax payers to ask the Treasury to withhold money they give to the World Bank and IMF each year (£15.72 for every taxpayer in the UK) until these damaging policies are stopped.