Debt pledge broken
LEADERS OF the world's most powerful countries and multinational institutions are breaking their promises of even minimal debt relief to Third World countries. Western leaders patted themselves on the back just nine months ago when they announced their "Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative". But so far only three countries-Uganda, Bolivia and Mauritania-have qualified for the debt relief.
Just two other countries, Tanzania and Mozambique, are expected to qualify before mid-April when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are due to meet. Yet 11 countries were supposed to benefit by this April, and some 41 countries were supposed to benefit from the debt relief overall. Campaigning group Jubilee 2000 says that those five qualifying countries will only have their debt burden reduced by 40 percent on average instead of the 90 to 100 percent write-off promised.
The five countries will still be paying more than half a billion dollars every year to foreign money lenders or bankers. That is almost as much as they spend on healthcare.