Singapore may soften ban on civil society involvement in World Bank-IMF meet

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

Singapore September 15, 2006 (LBO) — Singapore Friday appeared to be willing to soften on an earlier ban of allowing civil society groups to participate in the annual World Bank-IMF meetings next week, following sharp objections from the international lenders

“However, we cannot guarantee that all 27 activists will be admitted to Singapore,” it said. Police have said Singapore is a high-profile “terrorist” target.

The Lion City has objected to about 27 accredited protesters from participating in next week’s annual meetings, despite an open-access agreement signed in September 2003.

“It is unfortunate that Singapore is not honouring the MOU (memorandum of understanding),” World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said.

“We have raised the issue with the Singapore government, and last night the Prime Minister (Lee Hsien Loong) said they will look at each case individually and allow them in,” Wolfowitz told reporters here.

Civil society organizations activists usually meet alongside World Bank and IMF meetings to express view on trade, aid, debt and sustainable development.

Earlier, IMF managing director Rodrigo de Rato said the NGO presence was important to improving the work of the financial institutions. “We h