Thursday, July 17, 2014

John Weeks on the Brics Bank

in Open Democracy "We should note that the voting proposal for the BRICS bank follows the IMF/World Bank model – money votes with shares, reflecting each government's financial contribution. The largest voting share goes to China, whose record on investments in Africa is nothing short of appalling (see my discussion of Chinese capital in Zambia).....However, it is worth asking what to me is the obvious question – why is it necessary for countries to borrow to build, for example a new airport? The problem is never ‘money.’  Any government of a country that has its own currency can borrow from the central bank (this would not apply to the 14 members of the West and Central African currency zones). Only one reason comes to mind about borrowing from abroad: that the project may require substantial imports of materials. Thus, the purpose of the borrowing is to obtain US dollars, yen, renminbi, etc.  
Since the purpose of the loan is to obtain foreign currency, the process by which the BRICS bank reviews and assesses specific projects will likely involve the same unnecessary bureaucracy that we find in the World Bank. The suspicion uppermost in my mind is that the purpose of the BRICS bank, as a project funding bank, is to link the finance offered, to the construction firms and materials suppliers located in the BRICS themselves. Certainly, the Chinese Government is notorious for doing this (see 'China insists on "tied aid" in Africa')."

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