A seminar was organised on the Role of Infrastructure Finance and Newer Development Banks on 7th of June at Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi. The seminar was organised by the Delhi chapter of the Working Groups on International Financial Institutions to build up to the larger People’s Convention on Infrastructure Financing that is being organised in Mumbai (21st-23rd June 2018) as a counter to Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank’s 3rd Annual Meeting (25th-26th June 2018).
As the youngest multilateral development bank on the block, AIIB will be using its meeting to project itself as a complementary entity to the already established developmental institutions rather than as a competitor. Civil Society cannot let this Annual Meeting happen without raising critical concerns about growth-led development that AIIB purports to prioritize. The People’s Convention on Infrastructure Financing is a window of opportunity for peoples’ movements to disrupt AIIB’s alleged priorities by holding them accountable, transparent, and responsible with their investments.
The seminar in Delhi discussed various issues related to the infrastructure financing and the role of international financial institutions. Mr. Madhuresh, Coordinator NAPM started with giving a brief description about what is AIIB all about along with introducing the other speakers – Mr. Maju (Centre for Financial Accountability), Mr. R Sreedhar (Environics Trust) and Mr. Rajendra Ravi .
Starting with Mr. Maju he highlighted how we see AIIB, what are various threats people see or people propagate about AIIB. He also focused on the massive infrastructure gap that is prevailing. Talking about AIIB being the newest bank in such projects, claims to be a multilateral. Financing and Business investment is highly supported over land and environment. We should concentrate on the role and where it goes as there have been changes in the labour and land laws. It was stressed that the AIIB is a commercial bank looking for returns on its investments and is not a Development Bank like World Bank
Adding to it Mr. Rajendra Ravi said that these banks are changing the meaning of the bank. These banks are mostly for the urban population and prioritise increasing the urban extent and its infrastructure. They follow PPP mode which is usually anti community. How do we organise people to stand against such an investment? A new understanding, a new revolution and a new leadership is required.
Talking about the functioning and safeguards of these banks Mr. Sreedhar said that it is very difficult to track these banks and their safeguard policies. None of these banks meet the needs of the poor. These investment banks are looking for returns and profits. Companies do the dirty work on the ground, these are not projects that people are demanding but it’s the investors who are demanding these projects only for returns. None of these banks claim about transparency, there is no mention of where the money is going. We need to start educating and telling people about such financial aspect and we are still illiterate about it.
Following this, The People’s Convention will bring together groups and affected communities from across the country to discuss their vision of development. The Convention will also share stories of resistance and alternate visions on development along with demanding constitutional guarantees regarding meaningful and informed consultations and rights of communities in planning and development. Various workshops will be held on urban development, transportation, coastal protection and coastal communities, sustainable energy and equity, against privatization along with groups monitoring financial institutions and their policies and projects in the country.