All Haiti's debts must be cancelled, say campaigners

By staff writers
January 19, 2010

The Jubilee Debt Campaign (JDC) has urged the total cancellation of Haiti’s international debts following the earthquake that has killed up to 200,000 people in the country.

The campaigners also criticised the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for extending further loans to the Haitian government, saying that Haitians need grants instead. JDC described the IMF’s decision as “completely inappropriate”, saying that the IMF and similar institutions “bore a good degree of responsibility for the poor state of Haiti’s economy today”.

It was only last year that JDC welcomed the cancellation of two-thirds of Haiti’s debt, amounting to $1.2 billion. However, the country still owes debts of $641 million.

"Haiti's dire poverty has been built on centuries of injustice perpetrated against the country by the rich world” said JDC's Director, Nick Dearden, “It is time for our part of the world to pay its debt to Haiti. That means full cancellation of all of Haiti's debts and large grant funding.”

JDC points out that the IMF's loans come with conditions. They include raising prices for electricity, refusing pay rises for any public sector employees except those making the minimum wage and keeping inflation as low as possible.

The group argues that Haiti is still suffering as a result of conditions applied to its economy in the past. In 1995, the IMF forced Haiti to slash its rice tariff, resulting in increased imports from the USA, which JDC says caused devastation for Haitian farmers and malnutrition in rice-farming areas.

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