In Nicaragua, the fall in income from exports and remittances is already beginning to make itself felt and is having a tangible effect in terms of higher unemployment and increased poverty. In the short term, to limit the impact of the crisis, the government should increase public sector expenditure and thus stimulate economic activity and employment, even though these measures alone do not attack the country’s main problems. A major change of direction and a complete overhaul of the current growth model are urgently needed. Agriculture is very backward and must be revived, and a major effort to recapitalise the country’s human capital is essential.
According to experts, Nepal will feel the effects of the global financial crisis on several fronts. Other crises, related to the environment, food, energy, finance and politics have been buffeting the society for a long time. It is imperative to see this reality from a gender perspective, and to analyse the role of civil society in promoting initiatives and programmes to help alleviate the situation of the vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the downturn.
Mozambique’s exports – and probably its tourist industry – will suffer as a consequence of the world crisis. Food security and rural development are under threat because direct investment is lacking and because incentives are paid for crops grown for biofuels rather than food. As there is no ongoing participative dialogue between the Government and the people, progress in human development is almost impossible in the short or medium term. The main challenges facing the country include strengthening democracy and making public administration fairer and more transparent.
Morocco’s heavy dependence on the world economy has made it vulnerable to the global economic crisis. A drop in the demand for Moroccan exports, the sharp reduction in remittances and a severe inflationary process are some of the worst effects. The scant success of anti-crisis policies promoted by the Government aggravates the situation and increases social instability. New proposals arise from the unions and civil society in order to create new conditions for a more equitable economic and social model.
Moldova is living through turbulent times. Prior to the April elections, the ruling Communist Party downplayed the effects of the financial crisis, even though experts had stated that those countries for which remittances constitute one third of GDP, such as Moldova, would be the most vulnerable. Once the polls were over, however, the Government started to refer to the crisis as a “catastrophe”. Yet the measures it has promoted in response are missing the target.
Problems such as increasing poverty, the breakdown of the agricultural sector, insufficient employment and the decline of GDP already existed in Mexico before the current crisis hit. The minor adjustments the Government is announcing only reinforce the neo-liberal economic model, and social unrest is on the rise. However, there are a number of civil society proposals that call for alternative strategies to confront the manifold crises, to minimize impacts and revise the economic model.
Although the Maltese economy seemed at first to be shielded from the global economic crisis, the effects are starting to be felt. Tourism is declining, and food and utilities have become more expensive. Opinion polls show that the Maltese are not confident of the immediate future, expecting deteriorating quality of life in 2009. The number of asylum seekers grows daily, and their plight tends to get worse.
Malaysia, which relies heavily on exports for economic growth and imports most of its food, will have to brace for years of economic difficulties. There is a sharp fall in industrial production, the unemployment rate is soaring and analysts warn that the coming recession could be worse than that of 1997. The Government has been criticized for acting too late and for focusing on bailing out companies. Civil society organizations are holding protests and public fora to raise public awareness of the negative impacts of these crises, especially to the vulnerable groups in society.
The global economic and financial crisis is receiving increasing attention in official discourse as the Government has realized that, unless it is responsibly and seriously tackled, the impact will be severe. While the direct effects of the crisis have yet to be felt in the country, the nature of the economy renders it extremely vulnerable. However, although a national dialogue is needed, the Government has not held consultations with NGOs and other concerned parties.
Neo-liberal capitalism has lost its reason to exist. It is a structural crisis of liberal democracy, but in Kenya the Government is in denial, playing the game of the ostrich, burying its head in the sand. The governing elite argues that the crisis is circumstancial and that the national economy is sheltered enough by its weak ties with international capital. Kenyan civil society keeps warning that, contrary to the Government’s predictions, the country is about to sink in the turbulent waters of neo-liberalism.
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