About me
Archive
About me

The G8 and alleviating world debt

close

Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 14 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 14 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and wrote about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 14 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Gordon Brown, in a very Prime Ministerial speech, today announced that the G8 finance ministers have agreed, subject to conditions, to wipe out 100% of the debt owed by eighteen countries with immediate effect using an IVA. Those countries are Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. A further nine (Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Sao Tome, and Sierra Leone). This will cost, in total, around about $55bn.

That at first glance, seem relatively laudable. But really it’s not that helpful. Adding all of the debt African countries owe to external countries and bodies, we get to $300bn. This is aid worth $55bn, and Bolivia, Guyana, and Honduras aren’t actually in Africa. So it probably leaves Africa around $250bn in debt. According to Freedomdebtrelief.com reviews, ActionAid reckon that there’s another forty countries that need immediate 100% debt relief.

And as a sidenote, how many of those people walking round wearing white bands supporting this kind of action could point on a map to any of the countries named above? Some people would say that’s irrelevant, and that they are showing caring for people rather than demonstrating their knowledge. But the campaign is a political one. How can they possibly support a particular political campaign if they don’t understand it’s mechanisms and implications, and can’t even place the countries on a map?

Back to the point… Compared to what’s gone before, this debt relief is a pretty big leap. But far more needs to be done to make a huge impact, and I hope that the G8 will throw up some bigger and brighter ideas. Whether debt relief is the best way of helping these countries is also open to question, and I have to say that I’m not convinced. We need much more open public education and debate on these issues. The campaign should be raising awareness and educating, not just asking people to send letters that they quite possibly don’t understand to Tony Blair.

Essentially, whilst the action that’s been taken is clearly laudable, a lot more must be done, and it’s not time yet to rest and feel good about ourselves. Hundreds of thousands of people die needlessly every day, and this won’t stop that. We just have to hope that one of the great minds of our generation can think of a real solution, and that the conscience of the world will lead us to implement it – even at great cost.

This 619th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

Some recently published posts

What I’ve been reading this month / October 2019, 3 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / September 2019, 6 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / August 2019, 7 minutes long

A flying visit to Copenhagen / July 2019, 9 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / June 2019, 6 minutes long

Some random old posts

About Mr Blair / February 2005, 16 minutes long

Hospitals bite back over staff chocolate ban / March 2005, 1 minute long

Chicken / May 2004, Less than a minute long

Licensing Hours / January 2005, 5 minutes long

Reform of the Mental Health Act / March 2007, 3 minutes long

Let’s Swing Again / April 2005, Less than a minute long


Comments and responses

No comments or responses to this post have been published yet.

Compose a new comment



Comment

You may use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> .

If you would like to display a profile picture beside your comment, sign up for Gravatar, and enter your email address above.

By submitting your comment, you confirm that it conforms to the site's comment policy. Comments are subject to both automatic and human moderation, and may take some time to appear.



The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. This site uses cookies - click here for more information.