Monitor: All the News of the World - International comment on the G8 measures to ease Third World debt
Wednesday 23 June 1999
The Nation, Pakistan
WORLD LEADERS hailed the debt relief deal as removing the burden of unpayable loans which were condemning countries to abject poverty. But three years after the international community launched the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, only Bolivia and Uganda have secured relief and the HIPC is regarded as a failure. Recognising their mistake, Group of Seven leaders agreed in Cologne this weekend to relaunch HIPC as a vehicle for broader, faster and deeper relief. But will the Cologne initiative hit the targets missed by the original agreement? What is new is that rich governments now accept that they must accelerate debt relief if the poorest countries are to have any chance of ploughing more money into health and education.
INDIVIDUALLY, SOME of the economics that emerged during the G8 summit may be treated as pious statements of intent. Even the writing off of a major portion of the debt of the poorest nations may be less dramatic when implemented. The chances of these loans being repaid were in any case not very bright. And as with all loan write-offs, the move is unfair to those nations that have repaid their loans.
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