Saturday, 25 September 2004

Britain and Third World Debt

Apparently, Britain is going to offer to pay off 10% of Third World debt to international agencies like the World Bank (New York Times and Guardian stories). Text of Gordon Brown's intended words to the Trade Justice Movement, based on those stories:
"Because the poor cannot wait, we intend to lead by example by paying our share of their payments to the World Bank and the African Development Bank... We do this alone today, but we urge you to use your moral authority to urge other countries to follow suit so that poor countries can look forward to a future free from the shackles of debt."
The debt forgiveness movement has really come a long way. Spending money on aid is hardly a vote-winning measure (Brown says so as much in his interview with the Guardian), and it's nice to see the Chancellor putting money where his mouth is. Even if the money comes from already-budgeted funds, it still seems a powerful symbolic gesture.

Lots of movement on the debt forgiveness front, actually: World Bank / IMF meeting coming up on 1-3 October, with the likely chance that the US will introduce 100% debt cancellation for the poorest countries. Good idea (although there are caveats to the cancellation that people may disagree with), methinks. There's something wrong about the circularity of foreign aid being given out to the poorest countries just so that they have money to pay debts they owe the richer countries.




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