Debt campaigners look to 'unfinished business' of G8
Debt campaigners have said there is "unfinished business" for G8 Finance Ministers meeting this weekend.
G8 Finance Ministers will be in Moscow on Friday and Saturday, their first meeting since the UK relinquished the Presidency of the G8.
Last year the Finance Ministers initiated the G8's promises to cancel the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank debts of eighteen of the world's poorest countries.
While the IMF-related parts of last July's G8 debt deal have been completed, there are still ongoing discussions at the World Bank about the detail of its part in the debt cancellation deal, which some fear may dilute it or even negate it.
Earlier this week U.S. Treasury Under Secretary Tim Adams indicated the US wanted the World Bank to move faster and strongly urged the Bank to move as quickly as possible to get things done.
Last month Gordon Brown wrote an article in The Guardian newspaper saying that at this weekends Moscow meeting he would propose a post-Gleneagles agenda, "founded on delivering the G8 commitments, for the empowerment of developing countries."
The chancellor said that such an agenda should, as a matter of urgency, include full debt relief for not 38 but all the world's poorest countries. Empowerment of the poor would be a 'false hope' he said, until the decades-old debt crisis is fully resolved. "In Britain's view, all 67 of the poorest countries should secure debt relief.'
Campaigners however have expressed concern about the progress made so far. Two weeks ago Archbishop Desmond Tutu accused the UK of 'meanness of spirit' in a letter to Gordon Brown asking him to return £1.7bn (3bn US dollars) that the UK will receive from Nigeria as its share of a deal by rich countries to write off much of Nigeria's debts.
Stephen Rand, Co-chair of the Jubilee Debt Campaign said; "Last year's G8 debt deal is not yet agreed in full. But if anti-poverty targets are to be met, it must become a springboard to further action, not a lame-duck broken promise. We have welcomed Gordon Brown's commitment to build on the achievements of 2005. The G8 Finance Ministers have an opportunity this weekend to demonstrate that they really do want to see an end to the debt crisis that still damages the lives of children and adults in the world's poorest countries.' .
'2005 saw important commitments to make poverty history. This weekend's meeting is the first chance for the G8 to demonstrate that they meant what they said. The world is watching: the white bands have not been packed away' added Trisha Rogers, Director of the Campaign.
Jubilee Debt Campaign this week wrote to the Chancellor to indicate support for his efforts to finalise the World Bank and African Development Fund elements of the G8 debt deal, and urging him to ensure that the technicalities of the deal do not delay cancellation of World Bank debt and that out of fairness the G8 multilateral debt cancellation should be extended to include Inter American Development Bank debt.
In addition, the letter welcomed the news of progress on the G8's promise 'to establish effective mechanisms within our administrations for the recovery of assets, including those stolen through corruption Ö and to return assets to their legitimate owners,' and urged the G8 to build on the start that had been made.
The letter also urged the Chancellor to work for progress on implementation of the pledge that it should be up to developing countries themselves to 'decide, plan and sequence their economic policies to fit with their own development strategies, for which they should be accountable to all their people.'