Debt write-off step in the right direction

14 June 2005

Debt write-off step in the right direction

The SP has reacted with measured enthusiasm to the news that the debts of eighteen developing countries are to be written off. This decision means that hundreds of millions of euros a year will become available for investment in education, health care and other social sectors in the affected countries, most of which are in Africa.

Harry van BommelSP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, responding to the announcement, said: “It is certainly a first step in the right direction, but nothing more than that. Debt forgiveness for many other countries is necessary if the so-called Millennium Goals – a drastic reduction in poverty being principal among these – are to be achieved. I am also extremely sceptical regarding the manner in which this is to be financed. It seems that it will be at the expense of existing development budgets, which could mean that these countries will be paying, albeit in a different way.

“Above all we shouldn't forget that as long ago as 1999 the leading industrial countries, meeting as the G7, recognised the need for this and in fact took the decision then to write these debts off. This is therefore no more than the logical consequence of that decision, a filling in of the details.”

Mr Van Bommel emphasised that the decision in its present form to write off the debt offered no structural solution to the problem. “In order to ensure that the indebted countries don't simply get into debt again, development aid must be increased and barriers to trade from these countries lifted. Only then will we see a truly structural approach and only then will we really get closer to achieving the Millennium Goals.”

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