Peoples’ Convention on Infrastructure Financing Challenges AIIB’s Reckless Lending
Political and social activists, academics and financial analysts included, a large number of people gathered at the inaugural of Peoples’ Convention on Infrastructure Financing in Mumbai, ahead of the Annual Meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), decried investments of AIIB and other international financial institutions (IFIs), causing displacement, dispossession loss of livelihood and propelling inequality and social unrest.
 
Speaking at the occasion eminent economist Professor Arun Kumar, questioned the development model pushed ahead by IFIs in the pretext of ‘development for all’ as their only aim is profit-oriented growth at any cost.  He raised the pertinent question of ‘development for whom’. 
 
 
“AIIB has created a super structure, an ecosystem which acts as a complex web of shining terminologies and projects to attract investments, which actually is a smoke screen to hide the fact that there’s no human development happening” senior activist Medha Patkar said in her speech. 
 
Raising concerns at the crackdown of activists by the government, she lamented, "Show us one state where the people opposing the projects have not been jailed to raise their concerns about the environment, and right to life and livelihood. Recently, people were fired upon in Thutthokodi, Tamil Nadu, when they demanded a pollution free environment to live”.
 
Financial analyst and journalist Sucheta Dalal said that the Indian banking system is at the verge of crisis, reeling under the mounting bad loans, caused by unfettered corporate loans. Referring to government’s announcement in the Parliament that Rs2.4 lakh crore bad loans are written off, she said that “If farm loan waver was proposed the world would have gone on a spin, while the loans of big corporations are written off and there isn’t a whimper.”
 
 
The inaugural ceremony of the three-day Convention started with music of resistance by cultural groups. Other speakers included Sreedhar, Environics Trust; Shaktiman Gosh, General Secretary, National Hawkers Federation; Leo Colaco National Fishworkers Forum / World Forum of Fisher-people; Roma, National Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI).
 
 
Senior activist Ulka Mahajan asked, "Is land a commodity to sell to forcefully silence farmers by giving them some compensation to build infrastructure project?” She added "the land feeds generation of people by providing food,” while reminding that it will be difficult to bring back the fertility of land. "If raising issues of the marginalised is sedition, then we will continue to do it,” she emphasised.
 
 
The Peoples’ Convention on Infrastructure Financing is a 3-day confluence of people’s movements, civil society organiations and concerned citizens to deliberate about international financing and strategise a collective voice to hold these financers accountable for their impacts the lending is causing.
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Mumbai to host Peoples' Convention on Infrastructure Financing from 21st June
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
 
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Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian quits
The Chief Economic Advisor (CEA), Arvind Subramanian's term would not be extended any further as he wants to go back to the US due to family commitments, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
 
Subramanian had joined as the CEA on October 16, 2014 for a period of three years.
 
"Few days ago Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian met me over video conferencing. He informed me that he would like to go back to the United States on account of pressing family commitments," Jaitley said, adding that his reasons were "personal but extremely important" to him. 
 
"He left me with no option but to agree with him."
 
On the expiry of the three year term also Jaitley had requested the CEA to continue for some more time, he said, adding: "Even at that stage he told me that he was torn between family commitment and his current job which he considered the best and most fulfilling he has ever done." 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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