(Don’t Owe, Won’t Pay!)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Thursday, June 7, 2007
- Peter Lanzet, erlassjahr.de, +49 (0)170 81 31 191;
- Neil Watkins, Jubilee USA, +49 (0) 1520 284 8293, +1 202 421 1023;
- Vitalice Meija, AFRODAD, +49 (0) 15774521262;
- Eric Toussaint CADTM +32 (0) 486744752.
NGOs Say Delays Originated at 2005 G-8 Summit Rostock, Germany — On the second day of the G8 summit, leading international debt cancellation advocacy groups issued a strong call that the debt deal G8 leaders negotiated two years ago has not solved the debt crisis of Liberia. The advocacy groups called on the G8 to take immediate action to cancel Liberia’s debt.
“While the international community is moving to bring Liberian dictator Charles Taylor to justice for his crimes against humanity, the G8 is delaying the debt relief that Taylor´s victims urgently need to rebuild their war torn country.” Said Lancedell Mathews of the New African Research and Development Agency, a representative of the country’s platform of Development NGOs. “The G8 must cancel Liberia’s debt now.”
“Two years ago at Gleneagles, the G8 committed to delivering extra debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries. At the time, the G8 were aware they were cutting into resources set aside for countries like Liberia that were yet to enter the tortuous course of their debt relief mechanisms,” said Neil Watkins, National Coordinator at Jubilee USA Network. “And yet, this is exactly what is happening in the case of Liberia as
donors still squabble as to how to clear Liberia’s arrears to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank. Liberia’s debt must be cancelled now!”
In 2004, Liberia emerged from civil war. Today, with an annual budget of only US$130 million, President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson and Finance Minister Antoinette Sayeh are trying to free Liberia from the its external debt.
Over the past two decades, Liberia accumulated an incredible US$3.7 billion in foreign debt, US$1.3 billion of which was provided by the World Bank and the African Development Fund and the remaining US$2.4billion is owed to many creditor countries, including the US, Germany and South Africa. Said Vitalice Meija with AFRODAD, “With only USD $130 million, the Liberian government continues to pay at least $100,000 each month to multilateral institutions per month. This is totally unacceptable.”
“These debts are clearly unsustainable and must be written off”, said Gail Hurley of EURODAD, the Brussels based European Network on Debt and Development. “The Liberian people are not responsible for this debt, they did not profit from it and they can not repay it,” she continued.
The loans were contracted by a series of repressive regimes starting from the 1970s and leading up to Charles Taylor, President of the country prior to 2003.
“These loans were used to finance the extraction of the country’s resources like iron ores and diamonds, the benefits of which went to investors, creditors and brutal regimes, not the people of Liberia,” said Lidy Nacpil of the Jubilee South network. “The Liberian people suffered countless Human Rights violations like torture, forceful displacements, physical mutilation. The debts are clearly illegitimate and must be written off immediately,” she continued … (full text).