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Debt cancellation a glimmer of hope

Press Statement
For immediate release

Monday 13 June 2005

Debt cancellation a glimmer of hope

Jubilee Aotearoa, New Zealand’s Debt Action Network, congratulates the G8 Finance ministers on offering a glimmer of hope to some of the world's poorest countries unfairly burdened by debt.

Over the weekend, G8 Heads of Government stated a commitment to 100% debt cancellation for 18 of the world’s poorest countries. The debt relief however, falls short of what the non-governmental community, including that of New Zealand, has called for.

“The G8 commitment could make a real difference to the 18 countries that will be entitled to debt relief – the move is significant and sets a standard for future efforts on debt. However, this relief is only being offered to those countries which have met the completion point in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, and there are over 40 other heavily indebted countries also in a desperate situation which G8 leaders should not ignore”, said Jubilee Aotearoa spokesperson, Gillian Southey.

“Even those countries which are included in the deal are still likely to be subject to conditions laid down by lending agencies such as the World Bank and IMF, including opening up markets to foreign investment. These free trade policies are shown to often work against the interests of local economies and local people, especially the poor”, said Ms Southey.

“Debt cancellation is important but it is just one aspect of what needs to be a multi-tiered approach. Before there is genuine poverty alleviation, or any hope of reaching the Millennium Development Goals, G8 leaders also need to commit to increased levels of aid, and to a fair global trading system which benefits the poor. Leaders also need to rectify unfair and imbalanced lending practices that have been responsible for the creation of crippling debt for many countries in the first place”, she said.


Notes to Editors

- Jubilee Aotearoa is made up of the Anglican Social Justice Office, Arena, Caritas, Christian World Service, Council for International Development, Development Resource Centre, Latin America Committee, Oxfam New Zealand, Student Christian Movement, Tear Fund, Trade Aid, and World Vision and many concerned individuals. Its website is: www.debtaction.org.nz

- To mark the millennium 24 million people (63, 847 of whom were from New Zealand) signed the international Jubilee 2000 petition calling for total debt cancellation for 52 indebted countries and an end to harmful economic conditions like privatisation and trade liberalisation. They owe a total of $US 375 billion but will never be able to repay it. The poorest people in these countries are facing increasing poverty, little or no healthcare and limited or no access to education.

- For further information on local campaigns to reduce poverty visit the Aotearoa New Zealand mobilisation of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty http://www.makepovertyhistory.org.nz

- For a full transcript of the Bush / Blair press conference on the G7/8 where Bush states they are only interested in supporting countries with “open economies and open markets” visit: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0506/S00119.htm


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