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Jubilee 2000 Applauds Third World Debt Decision

9 March 2000


The Jubilee 2000 – Debt Action Network has applauded the decision of the New Zealand Government to make a $ 6.4 million contribution to the international effort to cancel the debt of the world’s poorest countries in the year 2000.

The Foreign and Finance Ministers announced this morning that New Zealand’s contribution would be going to the special IMF and World Bank Trust Funds for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The creation of these funds and other unilateral action by the world’s richest countries have been in response to the demands Jubilee 2000, one of the largest global peoples’ campaign that has been seen for some years.

“Almost 20 million signatures have been collected world-wide to demand that the $US 354 billion owed by the world’s poorest countries be written off this year, the year of Jubilee,” said Jill Hawkey, Coordinator of Christian World Service and spokesperson for the Jubilee 2000 campaign.

“The world’s richest countries and institutions are finally starting to take note. The US, Britain and Canada have announced that they are cancelling many of the debts owed to them by the poorest countries. The IMF and World Bank are also bowing to popular pressure to cancel the debts that the poorest countries owe them”, said Jill Hawkey.

“In this country 30,000 signatures have been collected for the international petition and in 1998 10,000 New Zealanders signed a petition to parliament to urge the Government to take action on the issue of third world debt.

“Last week a delegation from Jubilee 2000 met with Foreign Ministers Goff and Robson to urge the Government to play its role in the international effort to write off this debt. Making a contribution to the Trust Funds was high on our list.

“The current situation of Mozambique, one of the most highly indebted countries, graphically illustrates the corrosive effect of international debt on the poorest countries,” said Jill Hawkey. “Mozambique is currently having to pay $US 1.4 million a week in order to service its $US 8.3 billion debt. Clearly this was unsustainable before the devastating floods, now it is impossible.

“Jubilee 2000 believes that the response of the world’s richest countries and financial institutions is still not enough. We are calling for the complete cancellation of debt of the 52 poorest countries, not the partial cancellation of the debt of the 32 HIPC countries”, Jill Hawkey said. “Now that New Zealand has contributed to the trust fund we are calling on the Government to urge the IMF and World Bank to extend its debt cancellation programme, to ensure that debt relief is no longer delayed and that IMF-World Bank conditions that can increase poverty are eliminated.”

Note to editors: further information and articles on the international debt crisis can be obtained from the Jubilee 2000 website at: www.jubilee2000uk.org

For further information please contact:
Jill Hawkey (03) 366 9274 (w); (03) 332 8255 (h)
or Robert Reid / Don Borrie at (04) 237 9147

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