The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM sets terms for foreign funds

New Delhi, April 10: The CPM has decided to turn the screws on foreign agencies pumping in funds in states headed by the party.

'We are going to issue guidelines specifying the terms on which our state governments can cooperate with foreign non-government organisations,' said CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury on the fifth day of the 18th party congress. The guidelines are likely to be drawn up by tomorrow.

'Our party will not have anything to do with foreign-funded NGOs. Their aim is to depoliticise the people. These organisations have wreaked havoc in Bangladesh and Nepal,' said Yechury. 'Our party members cannot work in these organisations,' he said.

One of the factors that has made the CPM renew its focus on the NGOs seems to be that the party members in government-backed institutions have been creating their own NGOs in Bengal.

The state government has always had a fractious relationship with foreign NGOs whom they eye with suspicion. As a result, the NGOs have never found it easy to work in Bengal where health and education continue to be in a poor state despite 27 years of the uninterrupted Left Front rule.

The 'neo-liberal policies of globalisation' have reduced state governments to 'extreme penury', said the delegates to the congress while discussing the political organisation report. 'Imperialist agencies are coming to the aid of these governments with aid packages ' especially attractive packages for communist-led governments ' with strings attached to them,' said the CPM.

'The governments may accept aid for developmental projects but these should not come with preconditions,' says the report.

The party has made a distinction between organisations like the WHO and the UNDP on the one hand and the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Department of Financial and International Development on the other, which carry out development projects in Bengal.

'While aid from WHO, UNDP may be accepted, aid from ADB, World Bank or DFID may be accepted only if there are no conditionalities,' says the report.

Till a decade ago, the CPM used to advocate a blanket ban on foreign NGOs. However, the party toned down its opposition and said foreign funds may be accepted from NGOs that have no political agenda.

Yechury specifically mentioned the four lakh self-help groups that mainly offer rural credit and are considered a success in helping women become economically independent. He conceded that some of the work is helping women but said these groups cannot be a substitute for state institutions and banks.

The CPM leader referred to the Andhra Pradesh experience under the former Telugu Desam Party chief minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu. 'We cannot take loans from foreign agencies like the TDP (did)' as they have conditions of structural adjustment attached to them, he said.

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