World Bank

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri May 4 06:50:58 MDT 2001


Julio Huato:
>I like it when there's true debate.  NAFTA-Marxism or World Bank
>developmentalism?  Weighty arguments, you guys!  Now, jenyan1, have you been
>following the World Bank lately?  Or you think the WB, the IMF, and the WTO
>are one and the same incarnation of imperialistic evil?  Does NAFTA play in
>the NBA or in the NFL?

John Enyang (jenyan1) is from Kenya. It is possible that he has an
irrational fear of World Bank reforms such as the kind recently implemented
in his native country, just like Sidney has with his kreplach.

===

Los Angeles Times September 30, 2000, Saturday, Home Edition

An effort to cut back Kenya's bloated civil service is throwing workers
into a financial tailspin and sparking harsh criticism of the government at
a time when the country is suffering a serious economic crisis.

The move introduced in July by Kenya's head of public service, Richard
Leakey, has so far seen about 25,780 workers axed from 16 ministries. A
total of 48,829 civil servants out of a work force of more than 200,000 are
to be let go by June 2002.

But in a country where more than half the population already is estimated
to be living below the official poverty line, critics charge that the
program was implemented with inadequate arrangements for retraining and
redeploying terminated workers. On Friday, the country's High Court ruled
that the program be put on hold, pending hearing of a suit aimed at
blocking the cutbacks.

"The immediate gain of retrenchment is a reduced government wage bill on
the budget, which allows the government to allocate more of its expenditure
toward the delivery of goods and services to the people," said Lucas
Ojiambo, an economist at the World Bank in Nairobi. "To a layman, this
means increased funds for maintenance of key items such as roads,
hospitals, water wells, etc."

But many of the fired employees fear that they will face financial hardship
at a time when, according to Fletcher, at least 58% of Kenyans already live
below the poverty line.

Some workers collapsed upon opening their notices. Others charged that the
decision to fire them was based on tribalism or favoritism. Most have
complained about the severance pay--a $ 508 golden handshake plus
individual pension packages--and many worry about losing their government
housing.

"It's unfair because I was not given any reason," said Rose Okech, 46, a
mother of eight who worked for 22 years as a surveyor's assistant. "At my
age, how am I going to educate my children?"

Given only $ 2,308 in retirement benefits, Okech, whose husband is
unemployed, has three months to move out of her government housing. Other
civil servants said they fear being evicted from their rent-free
accommodations before receiving the full sum of their allowance.

The government has pledged to help the former civil servants settle into
the private sector.

A series of five-day workshops aimed at counseling laid-off workers began
in mayhem Monday at 200 centers nationwide. Confusion and noisy protests
marred the first day, as many workers boycotted the training sessions,
demanding a lump-sum payment for attendance instead of the daily
transportation subsidy of $ 6.

Many of the workers questioned the value of the training program, which
emphasizes investing their benefits. Michael Kiragu, 28, a former
government printer who joined the civil service five years ago straight out
of college, said he didn't understand business. "That's why I chose
employment in the government," he said.

The National Labor Party, whose suit resulted in Friday's High Court
ruling, wants the government to revoke the layoff of workers who have not
reached the legal retirement age of 55.


Louis Proyect
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