WASHINGTON 71 Members of the United States Congress sent a letter last night to US Treasury Secretary John Snow, urging him to negotiate an agreement that provides 100% cancellation of multilateral debts owed by impoverished countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America at the upcoming meeting of the G-7 Finance Ministers on February 4-5 in London.
The letter, initiated by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), and Rep. James Leach (R-IA) points out that Impoverished countries will never be able to eradicate poverty as long as they must continue to make payments on old loans they will never be able to repay. The poor people of impoverished countries need a chance; they need full debt cancellation.
The letter goes onto explain that existing debt relief programs notably the IMF/World Banks Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative have proven that debt relief is an effective way to reduce poverty, but that HIPC has failed to provide a lasting solution to the debt crisis.
Signatories urged Secretary Snow to negotiate an agreement that provides 100% multilateral debt cancellation for all countries eligible for the HIPC Initiative, as well as other needy and deserving countries, at the upcoming G-7 Finance Ministers meeting.
The letter follows on a similar letter sent last week by Republican Conference Chair Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), the Ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to Secretary Snow in support of more debt relief, including 100% multilateral cancellation. The Senate letter also urged action at this weekends G-7 Finance Ministers meeting.
The initiatives from Congress in support of full multilateral debt cancellation come in addition to efforts by advocates of debt cancellation to pressure the US administration to negotiate a deal this weekend. Yesterday, leading debt cancellation advocates delivered thousands of petition signatures to the US Treasury department calling for full and unconditional debt cancellation for all impoverished nations.
2) Letter from 71 Members of Congress to Secretary Snow
February 1, 2005
The Honorable John Snow
Secretary of the Treasury
Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20220
Dear Secretary Snow:
As part of your efforts to achieve debt relief for the worlds most impoverished countries, we write to urge you to
negotiate an agreement that provides 100% cancellation of multilateral debts owed by impoverished countries in Asia, Africa and
Latin America at the upcoming meeting of the G-7 Finance Ministers on February 4-5 in London.
Impoverished countries will never be able to eradicate poverty as long as they must continue to make payments on old loans
that they never will be able to repay. Money that impoverished countries must send to creditors such as the IMF and the World Bank
is money that is not spent on pressing social needs like health care, education and clean water. Debt payments to multilateral
creditors also interfere with poor countries efforts to recover from disasters like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Asia. The
people of impoverished countries need a chance; they need full debt cancellation.
Existing programs that provide limited debt relief most notably the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative of
the IMF and the World Bank have proven that even partial debt relief is an effective way to reduce poverty. The most recent
analysis of the HIPC Initiative by the IMF and the World Bank shows that since 1999, countries that received the limited debt relief
provided by the HIPC Initiative almost doubled their poverty-reduction expenditures.
However, the limited relief available under the HIPC Initiative has failed to provide a lasting solution to the debt crisis.
HIPC countries still send more than $2 billion in debt service payments to the IMF and the World Bank each year. Debt service
payments for HIPC countries have been reduced by less than one-third. Furthermore, several impoverished countries that were
excluded from the HIPC Initiative are in urgent need of debt relief.
We urge you to negotiate an agreement that provides 100% multilateral debt cancellation for all countries eligible for the
HIPC Initiative, as well as other needy and deserving countries, at the upcoming G-7 Finance Ministers meeting. We look forward to
your response and to working with you to achieve a historic breakthrough canceling all of the multilateral debts of impoverished
countries early this year.
Maxine Waters Spencer Bachus
Barney Frank James A. Leach
Carolyn Maloney John Conyers
Bob Filner Sanford Bishop
Maurice Hinchey Bennie Thompson
Sheila Jackson-Lee Robert Andrews
Juanita Millender-McDonald Earl Blumenauer
Norm Dicks Bobby L. Rush
Jesse Jackson, Jr. George Miller
Donald Payne Lane Evans
José Serrano Edolphus Towns
Bernard Sanders Elijah Cummings
Rosa DeLauro Chaka Fattah
Bart Gordon Major Owens
Sherrod Brown Gene Green
Alcee Hastings Charles Rangel
Marcy Kaptur Luis Gutierrez
David Scott James P. McGovern
Artur Davis Robert Wexler
Fortney Pete Stark Joseph Crowley
Cynthia McKinney John Lewis
Diane Watson William Lacy Clay
Barbara Lee Jan Schakowsky
Raúl Grijalva Dennis Kucinich
Peter DeFazio Eleanor Holmes Norton
Eliot Engel Stephanie Tubbs
Rush Holt Tammy Baldwin
Jim McDermott John Olver
Sam Farr Susan Davis
Tom Udall Grace Napolitano
Lois Capps Gregory Meeks
Michael Honda Hilda Solis
Neil Abercrombie Donna Christensen
Eddie Bernice Johnson Al Green
Julia Carson Michael R. McNulty
Carolyn C. Kilpatrick