Whither The South


With the "lost decade" still haunting around. a gloomy spectre continue to hover-over the South Countries. With ever mounting debts. falling prices for their hard currency earning exportable produce. couple with imposition of devaluation. the economies of the developing countries are in a dwindling crisis. The worst affected are the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Much talked about "New Imitational Economic Order" as propagated in the 70's has ended up in a mirage. Contrary to the expectations. capital continue to flow in the reverse direction to the North resulting in the widening of the gap between the North and the South. Despite prolonged discussions and dialogues. light at the end of the tunnel is yet to be seen. Added to all this. is the ecological molestation and environmental hazards. creating an interruption of global tranquility.

The developing countries in this milieu no longer could remain passive dependents on the magnanimity of the developed North in their race for survival if not for advancement. Many attempts made earlier during the last three decades in the form of groups of 77 etc. had failed. and no other option is available in the imitational negotiations. These developments induced the setting up of the South Commission. the idea which emanated at the Harare Summit. It was a bold decision in the nature of collective self-reliance based on South-South co-operation that enabled the South Commission to produce its comprehensive report - "The Challenge to the South".

The countries of the South. specially the governments. as well as the Non-governmental Organizations active in the region. have a greater responsibility for wider propagation of the recommendations of the commissions' report and its implementation. Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organization had been advocating South-South co-operation in their development process since its inception and had been co-operating in the endeavors of the South Commission. It is in this context that the Permanent Secretariat of AAPSO felt that its first international seminar in the South region on this publication 'The Challenge to the South"; should be held in Cairo. Although the decision was taken to hold it in February 1991, owing to the Gulf War, it had to be postponed to May 20-21, 1991. The South Centre in Geneva consented to co-sponsor the seminar.

This brochure contains, the interventions made by the participants in the Seminar who belong to diverse political and economic thinking. It represents a plurality of thoughts and ideas from different angles for a common aim. The discussions were thought provoking as there was a clash of opinion on the question of centrally-planned and free-market oriented economies. There was divergent approaches even within each system. "The Challenge to the South" no doubt may be "provocative" as it tackles the many faceted problems self-critically.

The South Commission Report drew its attention to the great difference between the situation in the developing countries that existed immediately after the dismantling of the colonial system and what is prevailing today. Most of these countries in the 1950's &1960's opted to develop their economies based on state intervention with strong public sector investment more through necessity than on a policy, and had made significant achievements until they were confronted with the present crisis.

Acceleration of the scientific and technological revolution brought about a rapid change in the growth of consumer industries and expansion of markets, couple with greater influence of transnational corporations in the transfer of technology and diversification of investment and expansion of private enterprise.

With the collapse of the centrally planned economies, the trend is shifting toward market -oriented economic development. Within this framework debate continues about the nature of the market-economy itself. The South Commission was alert to these trends, but in the context of developing countries, it recognized the importance of greater role of the state in development. "However, the role of the state in the management of development will remain essential even if the market is chosen as the primary instrument for resource allocation".

Despite belonging to different schools of thought and expressing dimetrically opposite views in the discussion at the seminar, one may note an emerging trend of consensus for mixed economies; combining the public and the private sectors to what they term as "indicative planning" for management of the economy as well as production of "growth with equity".

The Permanent Secretariat in publishing this brochure. expect to create a greater awareness among the South countries. specially among the intellegentsia so that it may assist to know our own problems and how they should mobilise the people of the South to meet these challenges to overcome the looming crisis. The Permanent Secretariat welcomes criticisms and suggestions about the brochure.

E. A. Vidyasekera
Secretary and Co-ordinator
The Permanent Secretariat of AAPSO