BRAZIL Brazil has slashed funds which it had promised to contribute towards a pilot project aimed at preserving the Amazon forests. The US $250-million-project was backed by seven leading industrial nations. At an agreement signed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio De Janerio, Brazil had agreed to contribute 10 per cent towards the fund. The move comes when the government is under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce its spending. A recent agreement between the Brazilian government and IMF, which is spearheading a US $41.3 billion loan for Brazil, reduces government spending on environmental programmes by two-thirds. "It is arguably a far more irrational and perverse consequence of the IMF agreement than even the harshest critic of the IMF could have imagined," said Stephen Schwartzman, senior scientist at the Washington-based Environmental Defence Fund.

Environmentalists warn that without Brazil's participation, the project stands to lose almost all the donations expected from the Group Of Seven industrialised nations. The pilot programme pays for surveying the rainforest and is seen as the first step towards protecting it from destruction by ranchers, loggers, miners and farmers.

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