Calls for G8 debt relief to come into effect
Livingstone, Zambia - African countries Wednesday called for the immediate application of debt relief provided by the G8 through its Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) for the world's poorest nations.
The call came in a communique released at the end of a four-day Commonwealth ministerial forum meeting in Livingstone, Zambia.
About 100 delegates representing governments and civil society from some of sub-Saharan Africa's poorest nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the African Development Bank (ADB) attended the gathering.
Discussions centred around the access and implementation of debt relief for poor nations that have qualified under the initiative being administered by the IMF, World Bank and the ADB, that provides for the 100 percent cancellation of foreign debt.
Cancellation of foreign debt
The communique also recommended that multilateral debt relief of this nature should be made available for recipient countries once they have completed the poverty reduction programmes sponsored by the IMF and the World Bank.
Of principle concern to African countries, according to the document, was the conditions and technicalities in accessing the measure while a cardinal issue for beneficiary countries was sited as the need to avoid slipping back into debt or accruing fresh debt once under the initiative.
Poor countries within the 51-member Commonwealth have also expressed concern at the conference about the formula being used in determining whether they should have their debt cut.
The possibility that some nations in desperate need of debt relief might find themselves at a disadvantage in light of the postponement of the implementation by the World Bank to July.
African nations also wanted to see the wider international community join the debt relief initiative to help the world's poorest countries achieve United Nations development goals by 2015.
'Debt won't go'
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary general Winston Cox, speaking at a press briefing, told journalists it was important that the MDRI be designed to benefit recipient countries optimally.
"Debt won't go, it is still going to be an issue, but it should be a manageable issue," he said.
Of the 19 countries in line to receive total debt cancellation by the G8 grouping, 13, including Zambia, are located in sub-Saharan Africa and are currently on IMF and World Bank-supported economic programmes. - Sapa-dpa