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UN advisor to Africa: stop paying back debt

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Issue: 20 Section: International News Geography: Africa Topics: UN

July 21, 2004

UN advisor to Africa: stop paying back debt

Jeffery Sachs, special poverty advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, called on the developed world to cancel debts owing from developing African nations. Failing such action, Mr. Sachs recommended that the nations take it upon themselves to simply stop repaying them.

Calling the debts "unaffordable," Mr. Sachs said, "The time has come to end this charade," and referred to economic reports that claim to prove that reducing African poverty would be impossible under the current debt burden. The original debt, which has been repaid many times over in interest payments that top $2 billion a year, is owed to a multiplicity of private corporations and governmental organizations largely located in rich, industrialized countries.

Mr. Sachs' call for debt relief follows similar comments made by British finance minister Gordon Brown at the recent G8 meeting. Opponents to debt relief have insisted that such financial forgiveness be tied to political reform within the debtor nations, which they assert are rife with governmental corruption and thievery at all levels. They argue that debt forgiveness would only deliver more money into the hands of Africa's few power-brokers, and would not benefit the impoverished public that needs the money.

» BBC: Africa 'should not pay its debts'

» George Monbiot: The Third World "debt" is simply an accounting device

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