Mumbai, the financial capital of India will host this year’s Peoples Convention on Infrastructure Financing, which will bring together groups and affected communities from across the country to discuss their vision of development and how the infrastructure push by dominant financial institutions affects them. The convention, being held between 21st to 23 June 2018, will 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. This Convention is in response to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIA) meeting that would also be held in Mumbai.
"AIIB has a co-financing model which serves the Bank well, particularly if other institutions, such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, do not charge the AIIB all the costs that they incur for due diligence and oversight. With low-cost co-financing fees, the AIIB can make significant profits since its own loan charges can easily cover its low administrative expenses. The other institutions, with their full suite of safeguard policies, also protect the AIIB from repetitional risks associated with infrastructure projects," says a statement from National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), one of the organisers.
According to the release, AIIB currently goes by the policies of co-funders like World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the absence of a policy of its own. Farmers affected by the land pooling scheme of Amaravati Sustainable Capital City Development project have raised questions about the AIIB and World Bank co-funded project and had to take up their grievances with the compliant mechanism of the World Bank, the co-financier of the project, in the absence of compliance mechanisms and policies of that of AIIB.
"Two of the projects, one being the Transmission System Strengthening Project, which it is co-financing with ADB and one proposed project Amaravati CCP being co-financed with World Bank and Andhra Pradesh 24×7 - Power For All project being co-financed with World Bank; leaves AIIB absolved of any obligations. The policies, due diligence applicable are the responsibility of the lead financier and there is no clarity on the role and liability of AIIB," the release says.
NAPM says concerns have also been raised regarding AIIB's proposed investment in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) as a financial intermediary, which will further reduce the transparency of how this money will be spent in high-risk investments without taking proper accountability. Various Indian groups have also joined their counterparts from across the world in raising questions on the energy policy as well as their concerns about shifting decision making power in approving projects from the Executive Board who are accountable to constituent Governments to that of the Bank Management, it added.
The People's convention on Infrastructure Financing organised by the 'Working Group on IFIs', an informal network of groups will discuss in length the policies of AIIB. Various self-organised events will bring together groups working on urban development, transportation, coastal protection and coastal communities, sustainable energy, and equity, against privatisation along with groups monitoring financial institutions and their policies and projects in the country. The Peoples convention also aims to bring together political actors, social movements, activists and local communities, both from urban slum communities and rural pockets to plan future action.
"It also seeks to deliver a firm message to development financial institutions, particularly to the AIIB on our resolution to watch their investments and demand accountability in their investments in the country and strengthen the forces fighting for a just and equitable development. AIIB being a south-led multilateral development bank should have its ears and eyes close to the ground feeling the pain of displacement and dispossession rather than funding projects that go against their own said mandate of clean, lean and green. The people's movements will keep a close eye on AIIB's priorities, policies and investments in the country and how they respond to peoples' voices," NAPM says.
Workshop organised by NAPM along with other fraternal organisations in Mumbai:
1. Smart Cities and Mega Infrastructure Projects
YWCA (Topaz Hall) | 4-6pm | 21 June 2018
2. Infrastructure and Development - Case of Amravati Capital City
YWCA (Sapphire Hall) | 9-11am | 22 June 2018
3. Growing Web of Industrial Corridors in India
YMCA (Seminar Hall) | 11:15am-1:15pm | 22 June 2018
4. AIIB and Interventions in Blue Economy
YWCA (Sapphire Hall) | 11:15am-1:15pm | 22 June 2018
5. Bullet through the People - The Train
YMCA (Foyer) | 2-4pm | 22 June 2018
6. Challenges and Responsibility: BEST Mumbai
YMCA (Seminar Hall) | 4:15-6:15pm | 22 June 2018