Saturday, June 11, 2005

Some Relief For Africa

Something good happened yesterday.

G8 ministers back Africa debt deal

The Group of Eight (G8) ministers, meeting for a second day Saturday in London, backed a deal that calls for an immediate scrapping of 100 percent of the debt owed by 18 countries.

Those countries, many in sub-Saharan Africa, owe about $40 billion to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank.

Leaving $38 billion still out there for Africa.

The G8 ministers also said 20 other countries could be eligible for debt relief if they meet targets for good governance and tackling corruption -- bringing the total package to more than $55 billion.

Well, what the heck. Let's just clean the slate.

Hopes of an accord on debt relief were raised Friday with reports of an agreement between the United States and Britain on writing off debt owed by the 18 countries.

I hope some of the US bashers will actually say something nice for once. Tony Blair deserves a huge amount of credit. He's done more in a week for Africa than he was able to accomplish through the EU in 5 years.

The countries are Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

These listed countries have been in dire straits for quite a while. I truly hope that people's lives can be upgraded as a result of this decision.

The debts would be written off by the lenders in an effort to allow the debtor countries to start fresh, get their books in order and eventually be able to borrow again for economic development, health, education and social programs, rather than simply to repay existing loans.

This last part is the section that bothers me. Will we find ourselves in the same position in a few years? There had better be some serious oversight. Allowing these countries to run around like teenage girls at the mall with a platinum card will not serve anyone.

I support this decision and I am glad it has happened. You can’t expect to get blood from a stone, and when so many people’s lives are in the balance, it was just the right thing to do. However, it leads me to some other questions:

Will Bono thank anyone, including US and European tax payers?

Will the protests by the unwashed hoards continue at every G8, IMF and World Bank meeting, proving it’s a college fad and nothing more? Perhaps they can move on to pure America bashing now.

Will the industrialized countries continue making bad loans that turn into donations on the backs of taxpayers?

Can we just call it foreign aide in the future?

In Sports:

Nats 2, Mariners 1
9 in a row!

Braves 5, As 3