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Debt Group Pushes For Greater Government Effort

On Eve Of IMF / World Bank Prague Meetings:

The New Zealand Government has the opportunity to be a "circuit breaker" in the current international stalemate over debt cancellation to the world's poorest countries according to Jubilee 2000, the international campaign for third world debt cancellation.

New Zealand Jubilee 2000 representatives met with Associate Foreign Affairs Minister, Matt Robson, on Thursday last week to hammer home the initiatives that they believe New Zealand could take.

The meeting took place on the eve of the IMF / World Bank 6-monthly meetings which will be held in Prague from 26-28 September 2000. Jubilee 2000 members will join some thousands of others in Prague at the time of the meetings protesting at IMF / World Bank policies towards third world countries.

“Just as New Zealand has been able to play a role far greater than its size on issues of land mines and nuclear disarmament, it is also able to play such a role in terms of third world debt,” said Jubilee 2000 campaign coordinator, Robert Reid.

“We urged Matt Robson to ensure that New Zealand takes a much more activist role in ensuring that third world countries obtain immediate debt relief instead of being forced to jump through numerous conditionality hurdles to achieve debt cancellation. Second we asked the New Zealand Government to support the initiative for an independent Debt Review Body for third world countries as proposed by UN General Secretary Kofi Annan.

“We note that Don McKinnon, former National Party Deputy Leader and now Secretary General of the Commonwealth has also attacked the IMF / World Bank conditionalities at a meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers in Malta last week. This meeting was attended by New Zealand Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen on his way to the IMF / World Bank meetings.

“Jubilee 2000 believes that unless prompt positive action is taken, vulnerable Third World economies will collapse and the basic rights of people to food, shelter, health and education will be denied.

“We believe that New Zealand should be seen to be taking a strong stand on debt cancellation alongside the poorest countries, Mr Reid said.

For further information contact Robert Reid at tel: (04) 389 5399 (h); (04) 237 5062 (w)

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