Letter: Need to ease Africa's debt

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your business commentary (20 August) on the 10th anniversary of the start of the Third World debt crisis confines itself to Latin America when the real ramifications are being seen far more widely.

With rampant inflation and a dollars 70bn ( pounds 37bn) debt facing the former republics of the Soviet Union, one observer has coined the phrase 'the Latin Americanisation of Eastern Europe'. Our associate, Dr Karoly Lorant, of the Budapest Research Institute of Social Studies, has written that 'we had hardly got rid of the Eastern tanks when we faced the Western banks'.

Moreover, Africa is now the most indebted continent. The interest it pays on its debts amounts to more than it spends on the health and education of its people. Debt reduction, albeit limited, has benefited countries such as Mexico. The political will is now needed for a substantial debt write-off for Africa and Eastern Europe.

Yours faithfully,

MARTIN SUMMERS

New Economics Foundation

London, E1

20 August

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