The International Monetary Fund has said that it protects spending on education, health and social protection from cuts in its loan programmes through social spending floors. These measures are a welcome step forward, but are they effective?
Analysis of all 17 IMF loan programmes (Extended Credit Facilities, or ECFs, and Extended Fund Facilities, or EFFs) for low- and middle-income countries during the first two years of the pandemic shows that these floors are deeply inadequate, inconsistent, opaque and failing. They are little more than a fig leaf for harmful austerity, which is driving inequality, poverty and suffering.
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