Government indecisiveness and lack of a clear strategy and vision to counter the negative effects of the crisis have fuelled pessimism and discontent among the population, which demands actions – not just words – to combat corruption and crime and to establish the rule of law. The economic situation has been deteriorating, endangering citizens’ economic and social rights. Government revenues have declined owing to large-scale privatizations since 2003. Pressured both by the IMF and by public discontent, politicians draft plans that are almost immediately discarded.
As the most food-import dependent country in West Africa, Senegal faces several challenges as a consequence of the multiple global crises which affect the economy, finance, environment, energy and, of course, food. All of these challenges result in the decline of the quality of life of Senegal’s citizens – particularly amongst the more vulnerable sectors – because of their repercussions on the country’s scant production, diminished imports and the high price of basic products. The Government’s plans do not provide an adequate response to the country’s needs. Civil society proposes returning to traditional agriculture, duly encouraged and supported by the State.
A decline in exports has triggered bankruptcies and a contraction in activities and unemployment is on the rise in Romania. Remittances, representing 5% of GNI, dropped 10% at the beginning of 2009. The privatization and sale of national banks over the last few years has led to the country and its citizens to become indebted to Western banks. A recent multi-billion loan from the IMF seems designed mainly to benefit these foreign financial institutions. Among the casualties of the crisis is aid for development: the entire Romanian development cooperation policy is in danger of disappearing.
The economic crisis that Portugal has been facing since at least 2001, reinforced by the current international financial and economic crisis, has brought increasing unemployment and poverty. The latter, however, is not just an effect of the current situation, but remains a structural condition. Almost half the population, including members of the middle class who lost their jobs and/or houses, experienced poverty between 1995 and 2000. Climate change is also affecting the economy and the well being of citizens. New approaches and specific measures are needed to combat poverty and tackle environmental challenges.
Even before the world financial crisis started to take its toll causing devaluation, increased unemployment and reduced income, investments and exports, Poland had already experienced rising wage and income inequality during its transition to a market economy. As the Government lacks transparency in its operations, there is no opportunity for public debate to discuss the measures taken to cope with the crisis, such as the use of loans from international financial institutions. At the same time, Polish society’s patriarchal mentality and lack of social protection policies mean that women have been the first victims of the crisis.
In the Philippines, economic globalization resulted in the expansion of informal labour, the contraction of local industries and heavy dependence on exports and remittances from abroad while poverty continued to rise due to inequitable distribution of the gains. Today, the global crisis is slowing down remittances while factories are closing. As usual, it is the poor and the marginalized who pay the heaviest cost. A stimulus package that is rights-based, pro-poor and sustainable is urgently needed.
The Government’s economic stimulus plan for tackling the crisis adds USD 3 billion to this year’s budget, which the Government will spend  in partnership with private-sector employers  on housing construction, financing for the export sector, and social welfare programmes. The trade union confederation has issued an alternative plan designed to maintain economic expansion and job creation, preserve jobs, support the worst-off sectors of society and encourage growth and consumption of domestic production.
Despite the serious setbacks expected as a result of the international financial crisis, the outlook for Paraguay could be worse. The country has a low level of external debt (due in part to the difficulty of previous governments in implementing earlier loans), a respectable level of international reserves, and an economy largely based on exporting agricultural commodities. A small country such as Paraguay, which produces food and clean energy and has plenty of fresh water and fertile land, has comparative advantages that can and should be strengthened.
Since 1948, when they were turned into a refugee population within their own country and the neighbouring Arab States, Palestinians’ living conditions have been grim. Furthermore, since the Israeli military occupation in 1967, colonization and racial discrimination have become common practices of the occupying power. Both the separation wall, on which construction began in April 2002, the closure imposed on the Palestinian territories and the last brutal Israeli attack on Gaza of December 2008 have increased segregation, unemployment and economic recession.
The majority of Nigerians have been living for a long time in a situation of economic meltdown. Corruption is widespread, the country lacks electricity, education and health are in a deplorable condition, and the armed fight for the control of oil resources continues to be intense. The global economic crisis has further deepened the plight of the poor. Experts underscore that the country should take measures to curtail its dependence on crude oil and address the poor implementation of annual budgets.
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