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Third World Network Fall Ecomomic policy and development issues, particularly Structural Adjustment Programmes SAPs have dominated African women's concerns because they have been implicated in the rise of poverty, especially of women, in Africa.
No less than 34 African countries have implemented SAPs. They have been cited as one of the factors responsible for the non-realisation of most of the provisions of the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies. Without a fundamental rethinking of SAPs, African economies have no chance of reversing their present circumstances.
The opposition to SAPs gained some ground during the Copenhagen Social Summit, which accepted that SAPs have to be reformed based on the recognition of the centrality of people in development.
Though limited, this recognition is nonetheless an important advance Economics saps must be built upon.
The Stabilisation package which addresses monetary and fiscal issues typically attempts to address inflation, reduce the government's budget deficit and balance-of-payments problems. This is done with measures to reduce domestic demand, both government and private. The longer term Structural Adjustment Programme is aimed at the promotion of production and resource mobilisation through the promotion of commodity exports, public sector reform, market liberalisation and institutional reform.
The programme seeks to limit the role of government in the economy, promote private sector operations and remove restrictions in the economy and ensure market determined prices. The freeing of prices does not however, extend to labour with wages tightly controlled, leading to dramatic drop in real wages in some cases.
Troubles and Reactions By the mids, there were many signs of trouble as the populations in various countries rebelled against the strictures of SAPs.
Some flash-points in Africa for example, Zambia, were related to the removal of subsidies on food staples, the widespread retrenchment of workers, the high cost of social services and goods and the low wages of workers.
The critics of SAPs include trade unions and urban-waged workers of various kinds, women's organisations, peasant farmers, non-governmental organisations NGOs and African governments themselves.
In the beginning, the dominant view was that SAPs were inevitable and essentially correct, but created hardships which had to be addressed to increase their acceptability.
Thus the discussion did not extend to a questioning of the macro-economic policies underpinning SAPs. The anti-SAP lobby gained ground as the s - 'SAP decade' - came to a close and it became clear that even the macro-economic policies were in dispute.
Since the lates, the view that SAPs are based on wrong assumptions about Africa and are inimical to the continent's long-term development have gained ground as has the position that SAPs have either created or worsened poverty levels or at the very least, have ignored the adverse effects of the programme on the poor.
The IFIs and their supporters continue to insist that SAPs are the only way forward and without them, Africa would have been worse off. In between these two positions for and against SAPs, are a range of positions which question the validity of specific policies which make up SAPs and insist on the consideration of macro-economic policies together with policy at other levels including their distributional effects.
Critics have challenged the basis and assumptions of SAPs. They have also pointed to the fact that the process of designing them is undemocratic and is usually dominated by officials of the IFIs yielding a product 'not owned' by the implementing country.
These have been underlined by the expectations raised by the programmes' advocates at their inception not materialising. The modesty of the macro-economic gains of SAPs has been compared to the programmes' profound socio-economic and political effects, with the lop-sided distribution of limited gains and extensive hardships raising questions of social justice.
A number of analysts and activists assert that SAPs have failed in Africa because they have been based on an assumption that a uniform set of principles can yield successful policies for all countries irrespective of their differences. This overlooking of important differences, it is said, has led to policies which ignore the differences between Africa and other continents and the differences within Africa itself.
In all countries significant increases in private investment were expected once economies embraced deregulation and monetary and fiscal measures. Local private investment in manufacturing, which has never been significant in most of Africa, has not been able to respond because of SAP policies such as high interest rates and the deregulation of imports among others, while in some countries, foreign private investment has been disappointing except in the area of mining.
Even if foreign capital could be attracted to Africa, not all countries would be able to benefit from such a strategy. Thus the expectations of job creation, foreign exchange earnings and expanded markets which were to wean the economy from aid and expand industrialisation according to the bank, have not been realised.
SAP also disabled African economies from fundamentally changing their character as primary commodity producers, a situation which is the source of the crisis of Africa's economies.
This is particularly important because many of the SAP policies are designed on the basis of a questionable 'comparative advantage' in that they aim to strengthen the ability of African economies to produce what they were already producing, primary commodities.
The total trade liberalisation, high interest rates and the full removal of subsidies have threatened both agriculture and domestic industries. Agriculture, especially food production, has also been adversely affected by interest rates and the high prices of inputs.
There is consensus that low commodity prices have not brought the economic returns expected from the promotion of export agriculture. Also, SAPs have a negative impact on the environment.Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) consist of loans provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) to countries that experienced economic crises.
The two Bretton Woods Institutions require borrowing countries to implement certain policies in order to obtain new loans (or to lower interest rates on existing ones). Sep 28, · The Economist offers authoritative insight and opinion on international news, politics, business, finance, science, technology and the connections between them.
SAPs are based on a narrow economic model that perpetuates poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. The growing civil society critique of structural adjustment is forcing the IFIs and Washington to offer new mitigation measures regarding SAPs, including national debates on economic policy.
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Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) consist of loans provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) to countries that experienced economic crises. The two Bretton Woods Institutions require borrowing countries to implement certain policies in order to obtain new loans (or to lower interest rates on existing ones).