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Finance: IMF needs different mindset than its modified neoliberalism


Philip Alston

Much of the new discourse, and the research underpinning it, is welcome from a human rights perspective, but the real test is whether it will be fully translated into operational reality, which is where new ideas meet entrenched institutional culture, vested interests and ideology, said Alston. More recently, a number of IMF loans, including to Egypt and Jordan, have included "gender conditionalities". " These are very important steps forward, but much remains to be done," said Alston.

According to Alston, the IMF has also strongly opposed universal programs in some situations. In 2017, after years of pressure from the IMF, Mongolia agreed to restrict the scope of the previously universal "Child Money" programs offered to the poorest 60 per cent of its children, which has since been raised again to 80 per cent. That structural benchmark in the IMF loan has reportedly been strictly enforced. Similarly, in January 2018, the IMF announced that Kyrgyzstan would "amend the law on universal child allowances to reintroduce targeting". That policy change is said to have been adopted following the IMF review of the country's Extended Credit Facility. Nonetheless, said Alston, recent research on targeting in sub-Saharan Africa presents a compelling challenge to the logic of targeting, assuming the objective is to reduce poverty, rather than to promote neoliberal orthodoxy.

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