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The Norwegian government is protesting about strings attached to many World Bank loans to poor countries. The government has announced it won’t hand over all of a promised increase in support to the bank.

The decision is a win for Norwegian Church Aid, which campaigned for the government to reduce its support to the World Bank for as long as the Bank continues to pressure countries into privatizing basic public services.

”The decision to reduce Norwegian financial support to the World Bank is historic”, says Atle Sommerfeldt, general secretary of Norwegian Church Aid. “This can only be read as a critique of the conditions the World Bank imposes on poor countries, and as such, it will be noted worldwide.”

The Norwegian government is withholding $5.2 million of a planned $14.4 million increase to the Bank. Norway’s overall contribution is about Cdn$140 million.

We are not completely satisfied with the progress the World Bank has made in living up to its principles on conditionality. Because of this we have chosen to reduce the increase in support” says Håkon Arald Gundersen, Norway’s deputy minister of development.

A recent report from the European network on debt and development (Eurodad) confirms that the World Bank continues to impose privatization and liberalization requirements through its loans and grants, even as the Bank claims it’s reduced these requirements.  The report found 70 per cent of World Bank loans come with strings attached.

Canada is a donor to both the World Bank, and to the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility. The World Bank is one of the PPIAF’s biggest donors, which isn’t surprising given the organization’s clear orientation to water privatization.