Sunday, March 05, 2006

How Global Institutions Affect Country Budgets and How Citizens Can Make a Difference

As long-time readers of The Democracy Center's work know, we are involved in much more than just writing about events in Bolivia. Our work stretches globally and, occasionally, into realms that some readers will think are a bit "wonky", i.e. the deeper realms of public policy.

In that spirit I invite readers who are interested to read a new report written by The Democracy Center and published by our partners at the International Budget Project. It is titled: Invisible Hands – Tracing the Connections Between the Policies of International Financial Institutions and Country Budget Policies.

Don’t be put off by the rather 'wonky" title. The report is based on a meeting we helped put together in Washington last year, bringing together people from all over the world from two kinds of work. Some focus on making their countries' budget policies more open and accountable, and especially more aimed at lifting up the poor. Other groups that came work on holding international financial institutions – like the World Bank and IMF – more accountable.

Don’t mistake this work as boring technical detail. If the IMF tells a poor country to reduce its budget deficit, even if that means on the backs of the poor, that affects real people's lives. And that is why it is so important that citizens get involved in these issues – of both budgets and IFIs – to make sure that the public is served.

Below is the opening of the report. Here's a link to the full version. And, for those really interested, here's the link to more on The Democracy Center's work with citizens and public budgets.

In April 2005, two international civil society networks – one that seeks to influence government budget policies and one that seeks to influence the policies of international financial institutions (IFIs) – came together for a global meeting titled: International Financial Institutions, Budget Policy, and Social Justice: An Opportunity for Civil Society. The meeting was convened by the International Budget Project (IBP), with its partner, The Democracy Center, and the Bank Information Center (BIC). This is the report of the information shared by each community, and the new thinking that emerged as these groups came together.

It includes reports from the IBP and the BIC on how each community does its work, a set of case studies that illustrates each field’s work in action, a look at the cross-cutting issues of concern in both fields, and strategies for potential collaborations.