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‘Structural Adjustment Program’ (SAP) is one of those high-sounding phrases lacking humanity and full meaning. It could even be mistaken for a chiropractic maneuver, but that would be an insult to chiropractors. However, it is an adjustment, especially if you are a worker in the global south. According to Walden Bello, a professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines, SAPs in the Mulroney, Reagan, and Thatcher era were intended to “further integrate southern countries into the North-dominated world economy.”
To do this the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided “compliant Third World debtors with billions of dollars in quick-disbursing [structural adjustment loans] which would then be transferred as interest payments to the private banks. But, to receive such loans, the government had to agree to undergo a structural adjustment program (SAP) which was [supposedly] designed to make its economy more efficient and better capable of sustained growth.”
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund said they were interested in stimulating growth in countries of the global south because in their view growth had stagnated. However, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) economist Lance Taylor and his associates have shown that the economies of the global south were hit hard by the OPEC oil shock of 1970s and the global debt crisis in the 1980s. (A scholarly article is available here.)
What such countries needed most were their existing import substitution programs, eliminated by SAP, which guaranteed local production for local markets. SAPs destroyed local economies to make them subservient to the emerging global economy we know so well today.
In the second half hour we talked to Tewodros Asfaw, an Ethiopian born Windsor activist and researcher who filled us in on SAPs and how the current so-called age of austerity is in fact structural adjustment for the working class of Canada.
In the first half hour we discussed with Dr David Camfield, associate professor of Labour Studies at the University of Manitoba, his book, Canadian Labour in Crisis: Reinventing the Workers’ Movement.
Camfield later appeared Friday evening at 7PM at the Windsor Workers’ Action Centre before an audience of approximately 20. His book is available at The Bookroom at 2161 Wyandotte W. near the university.
Music featured on the program: