blogimf.jpg  Murilo Portugal, Deputy Managing Director of IMF The International Monetary Fund has insisted that salaries of school teachers in the primary and secondary sectors in the central African state of Burundi be kept down. This resulted in a strike of teachers in October.    

Teachers in Burundi who earn between 25 and 30 dollars a month had been promised a 34% pay increase last May.  This had not however been forthcoming due to the intervention of the IMF which has instructed the government to restrict public spending. Secondary teachers were the first to go on strike when their salary claims were not met and they were joined by their colleagues in primary schools in the SNEB and SYNAPEP unions.

The IMF has drawn much criticism for its so called structural adjustment policies which are forcing poor countries to restrict public sector wage bills, These policies are not only causing great hardship to teachers but also having a negative  effect on recruitment and retention of teachers – with the result that there is no chance of the millenium development goal of universal primary education by 2015 being met.

Burundi, which according to the World Bank is one of the poorest countries in Africa and has been ravaged by years of civil war is also being forced to open up its markets to international competition and in particular to privatise its assets in exchange for loans and aid. The IMF has particularly got its eyes on Burundi's only lucrative export - coffee. Mr Murilo Portugal, Deputy Managing Director of the IMF executive board is quoted as saying:

"It is important that structural reform efforts, including preparations to privatize the productive sectors of the economy, especially the coffee sector, be accelerated. Improving the investment climate will be vital to attracting private investment and spurring economic growth."Go to www.imf.org and click on 'news' to get the report in full.