Monday, December 8, 2008

Imperialists just don't let you be: Or, let them eat dirt!

In the December 5, 2008 issue of the Saigon Times Daily, on the front page there are two reports that say all you need to know about what imperialists do to you, even when you defeat them militarily and kick them out of your country.

The biggest headline, on top of the front page reads: "Foreign donors urge macroeconomic reforms." In a statement issued by representatives of the EU, one of the group of donors, it was stated that Vietnam needs to sustain macroeconomic reforms, making sure the country's market opens up more to foreign trade, and presumably (though this was not in the article explicitly) at some point start cutting subsidies to the people.

The report states, "Vietnam has seen 2008 as a year full of macroeconomic turbulences, such as high inflation, large trade and current account deficits, said the EU. 'We commend your Government's largely successful measures to stabilize the situation and preserve the confidence of economic operators, in consultation with the IMF and others,' the EU said in a statement."

Quoting Benedict Bingham, senior resident representative of the IMF in Vietnam, the article says, "Fiscal policy needs to be restrained [read, spend less on your people] and the recent widening of the trading band is welcome." The article further states, "Foreign donors agreed that the Government's continued commitment to structural economic reforms, and its views on how to increase the pace of reform of State-Owned Enterprises and banks, and how it may encourage small and medium-sized enterprises, was playing a key part in stabilizing the economy."

In short, the remedies recommended by the foreign donors are: spend less on Vietnamese people, privatize more of your industries, and open up your market to foreign goods even more.

[Note: Vietnam is currently a member of the World Trade Organization.]

Another headline from the front page of the same issue of the Saigon Times Daily reads: "Vietnam to raise poverty line." The new poverty line is to apply to the 2009-2010 period, "and those with a monthly income below that level will get financial support." The current poverty line, after two year of rapid inflation of 12.6% in 2007 and 24.2% in 2008, has simply left millions more of Vietnamese people well behind.

The article explains, "The existing poverty criteria were formulated in 2005, when 60% of the people's average spending was on food and the remaining on non-food items. However, the fast increase of the consumer price index this year has pushed many poor people further into hardship due to soaring prices of many items, especially food."

The current poverty line is VND241,000/month in the urban areas (about $14.26) and VND200,000/month in the rural areas (about $11.83; based on current exchange rate, $1=VND16,900). The new poverty line will tentatively be set at VND390,000/month for urban, and VND300,000/month for rural areas ($23.08/m and $17.75/m respectively). Still well short of a $1/day. 

To conclude from the above two articles: Even in a country with some 30% of the population in poverty (i.e., living on well less than a dollar a day), the big foreign capitalists' recommendation for 'improved' economic stability is to cut the helping hand the government can afford its people, increase capitalist reforms that lead invariably to more endemic poverty, and open up the market to more foreign goods (meaning, do less local production for local use, meaning in turn less employment for the local population). 

In short, increase structural, permanent poverty in your country!

In a related article from the Saigon Times Daily of Dec. 8, 2008, it was reported that the foreign donors pledged just over $5 billion in aid for 2009. It should be noted that this 'aid' is mostly in the form of loans.

Now, think about it. Considering that the cost of the Iraq war alone is $2 billion/week, the $5 billion is the equivalent of two and a half weeks of war-waging in Iraq. When you look at the 'aid' amount from individual countries, it looks even more miserly. World Bank was the largest of the donors, at $1.66 billion; Asian Development Bank, $1.56b; the European Union (the entire Union, mind you), $894 million; Korea, one of the bilateral donors, $269 million.

The most miserly of all was Japan. Zero! Why? Because, the Japanese government 'explained', there was a corruption scandal involving a Japanese company bribing some Vietnamese officials, in the course of the allocation of the last batch of money 'donated' by Japan, for the year 2008.

Now, this is rich, indeed! Japan is a country that is regularly wracked by corruption scandals of their own (notice that the bribe to the Vietnamese officials came from a Japanese company). Especially corrupt is Japan's construction industry in the dealings they have with the relevant ministries that require contracting construction companies for different projects. In all the years that I lived in Japan, I witnessed this on a regular basis. I never, however, witnessed any cutting of any ministerial budgets due to corruption!

The same Japanese government, as part of their commitment to the 'war on terror', had no problem providing FREE oil, for years, to 'coalition' warships and supply ships in the Indian Ocean waging war against the people of Afghanistan.

There you have it. Imperialist miserly greed knows no limits.

1 comment:

Anuk Asar said...

Check out what NPR was reporting April 3, 2009

Listen to stream here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102688599