DSA2017: Sustainability Interrogated: Societies, Growth, and Social Justice
The main theme of this Panel is to analyse the free-market approach viewed as the neo-liberal development agenda being pursued by various developing countries. An important aim is to learn from the lessons arising from such development practices.
Thirty years after the adoption of ‘Structural Adjustment Programmes’ (SAPs) across the developing world this is perhaps a good time to critically consider the impact of these programmes on socio-economic development. Although the originator protested that the ‘Washington Consensus’ was not a ‘neo-liberal’ agenda (Williamson, 1994 and 2000) it is clear that with liberalisation of trade, of the financial sector, of internal marketing and of labour markets together with reform of foreign exchange markets and with privatisation/divestiture the impact of the SAPs was broadly consistent with neo-liberalism.
It is hoped that this panel will consist of a number of case studies which will permit a view of the extent to which certain elements of this neo-liberal agenda were necessary conditions for socio-economic regeneration of ‘stalled’ countries, and which might not have been ‘necessary’.
The convenors of the proposed panel have been working on a book-length review of Ghanaian economic development covering the period since the mid-1980s. This represents one very appropriate case study in the context of the proposed focus of the panel. Other contributors will have their own perspectives on various countries which underwent the SAP experience, thus helping us to have a close overview of the current context of the economic development policy.
Although this panel proposal comes from within the DSA Scotland Study Group, it will remain an open panel, so outside contributors are welcome to submit papers.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Growth with Neoliberal Development Strategy: The Case of Ghana
This paper will examine the state-led 'dirigiste' economic approach which Ghana had pursued from the country's independence in 1957 to the early 1980s versus the current neoliberal-type approach as being practised over the last quarter century, thus enabling us to draw some important lessons.
Ghana provides a good example of a developing country which started its economic life greatly influenced by the planning strategy with strong state controls and, subsequently, made a complete turnaround, adopting in 1983 the Structural Development Programmes, emphasising neo-liberal values especially private enterprise development and free trade. It is now well documented that the resource allocation under state-led 'dirigiste' economic approach caused some severe economic problems and in the early-1980s, the economy was about to collapse (Huq 1989). Fortunately, the adoption of the liberalisation strategy has greatly helped the economy to revive and transform, enabling high GDP growth in the recent decades. But it is really disturbing that this country which has been acclaimed by the World Bank as an example of economic miracle had to join in 2001 the rank of the highly indebted poor countries (HIPCs). Not surprisingly, a growing number of critics are now questioning the uncritical pursuit of the neoliberal strategy (see, e.g., Opoku 2010, and Ayelazuno 2014). A serious major criticism is that the push for liberalization has not been accompanied by an equal push for the growth of local private enterprise. Other major concerns include the failure of the economy to diversify, the low growth of savings and the severe fiscal balance that the economy has recently been experiencing. We will analyse closely the growth of the Ghanaian economy covering some sixty years and, in particular, examine the pursuit of the two opposite development strategies, thus helping us to draw some important lessons.
Neoliberalism, Elite Interest and Institutions of Pragmatism in Ghana
The neoliberal approach to economic management became the regime that imposed market discipline on Ghana's the ruling elites in 1983 through the Bretton Woods sponsored Structural Adjustment Programme which provided the broad framework for the Economic Recovery Programmes.
The thoroughness with which the PNDC military junta subjected the country to the discipline of the forces of neoliberalism made it a cynosure of African states contemplating neoliberal programmes of economic revival. Reflection on Ghana's experience with neoliberalism shows that there is more to such plaudits than meets the eye. As noted by Akonor (2012) there were times when the PNDC did not comply with the discipline of the neoliberal doctrine as packaged by the IMF. The 1987 PAMSCAD stands out in this respect (Gayi, 1995). In addition to PAMSCAD in 1993/94 the Ghana Government resisted IMF pressures to fully liberalize the marketing of cocoa. Up to this day, Ghana remains the only major cocoa producing country without a fully liberalized marketing system (Vigneri and Santos, 2007) (Anang, 2011). In 1997 the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission was established (Government of Ghana, 1997) to fix prices in the utility industry. All these elite institutional interventions in the market imply that in as much as the neoliberal doctrine disciplined elites in Ghana, they also attempted to discipline the neoliberal regime by inserting institutions of pragmatism into the market. This perspective alters the nature of the experience of African elites in the face of the neoliberal wave in which they are portrayed as passive actors. The examples cited above gives reason for the pattern, source, and effects of the agency of African elites to be fully understood as an important aspect of the neoliberal experience in Africa.
Neoliberalism, Governance and the Washington Consensus: Empirics and Principles
Burnside and Dollar (2000) focussed on the importance of the 'policy environment' for good economic performance. This paper will critically review empirical measures of governance in the context of the principles of 'neoliberalism' and of the Washington Consensus.
Since the early 2000s there have been an increasing number of indicators available which relate to the 'measurement' of good governance, and these are widely used as a basis for policy decisions including allocation of Official Development Assistance to recipient developing countries.
Some Governance Indicators will be critically compared with the principles of the Washington Consensus and of Neoliberalism in order to assess the extent to which the indicators have implicitly adopted these principles. Particular attention will be given to the establishment of a working definition of Neoliberalism, and to a comparison between these principles and the content of Rodrik's (2006) 'augmented Washington Consensus'.
Published values for some of the indicators will be compared for countries with contrasting experiences, particularly focussing on sub-Saharan Africa but also extending the comparison to a number of developed and developing countries from other continents.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.