Letter: Debt forgiven

Sir: I was disappointed by the lukewarm tone of your reaction to the news of debt relief for the poorest nations (report, 18 December; leading article, 22 December).

Your statement that "nations are not poor because they are in debt", although true in part, ignores the fact that debt sets the whole process of economic and social progress in reverse, and that it demolished many of the rudimentary educational and health services which may have been available.

You also state that "other needy nations such as Bangladesh ... have managed to pay back what they borrowed".

That is false in part. Bangladesh has a total debt stock of $15bn and annual debt repayments of approximately $700m (figures for 1997). It is a disgrace that the appeal by Jubilee 2000 for debt relief for this impoverished country has fallen on deaf ears.

DAVID G W GOLDING

Jubilee 2000 Coalition at Newcastle University

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