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Aid (Alone) Won’t Fix World Poverty

Christian World Service welcomes Matt Robson’s proposal to spend less on defence and more on aid at the United Nations Financing for Development Conference meeting in Monterrey, Mexico. But the New Zealand government like the UN Conference is not addressing the real causes of poverty in the world. One of these is the unfair debt burden and the imposition of the same old economic policies that prioritise debt repayments and the privatisation of essential services before health care and education.

“Without a permanent solution to the unjust debt burden placed on the world’s poorest countries, there is little hope for the world’s poorest citizens,” said Jill Hawkey, national coordinator for Christian World Service.

In 1998 the 52 most indebted countries owed US$372 billion. Internationally the Jubilee movement has done the sums and found that these debts can never be repaid. Under the IMF and World Bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) about 15% of the debt has been cancelled to date, allowing children in Uganda access to primary school for example. But any benefits gained for the 24 countries that have received some debt cancellation are likely to be lost in the next few years. Africa alone pays US$13.5 billion every year to service its debts. This is far more than its governments receive in aid.

“Without some fundamental changes in the priorities of the world’s richest countries, the poorest countries will simply return any new aid money back in debt repayments. The intentions of the conference are very worthy but there is no indication in a statement agreed before the meeting of any decisive new action to rectify the injustices of a global scale,” said Jill Hawkey. “The IMF, the World Bank and the comparatively new World Trade Organisation have a very poor track record in terms of development. Governments must take their lead from the people themselves.”

Christian World Service is the lead agency for the Jubilee campaign. The Jubilee Debt Action Network (formerly Jubilee 2000) is a coalition of groups and individuals campaigning to cancel Third World debt and for an end to IMF and World Bank structural adjustment policies. Over 60,000 New Zealanders signed the international Jubilee 2000 petition calling for a one off cancellation of the unpayable debt for the new millennium.

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