Millions of campaigners call for immediate debt relief and aid with no strings attached

Published: 23 November 2005

The World Bank and IMF meeting this weekend in Washington must implement the modest G8 Gleneagles debt deal agreed to in July to ensure rich countries move towards meeting their commitments on debt cancellation for poor countries. They must also eliminate the harmful policy conditions attached to aid and debt relief, said the world’s largest anti-poverty movement today.

The World Bank and IMF meeting this weekend in Washington must implement the modest G8 Gleneagles debt deal agreed to in July to ensure rich countries move towards meeting their commitments on debt cancellation for poor countries. They must also eliminate the harmful policy conditions attached to aid and debt relief, said the world’s largest anti-poverty movement today.

The Global Call to Action against Poverty’s (GCAP) spokesperson Collins Magalasi said that the Bank and Fund must do the G8 deal on debt this weekend with no new strings or conditions attached.

“We welcomed the G8’s announcement to cancel the debts of at least 18 of the most highly indebted poor countries to the World Bank and IMF,” said Collins Magalasi. “However on the eve of the annual meetings this deal now seems jeopardized because rich countries are not coming forward with long-term funding for the debt cancellation.”

“This debt deal must go through, and must be extended to include many more poor countries if poverty is to be reduced. The debt cancellation must not be tied to harmful economic policy conditions.”

GCAP said that all countries should be financial accountable and transparent at the national level and that all country governments, rich and poor, should be accountable to their parliaments and civil society.

The Global Call to Action against Poverty also called on the World Bank and IMF to take decisive action towards ending poverty by ceasing to impose unnecessary and strict economic policy requirements as conditions on giving overseas aid and debt relief. These conditions include wholesale privatization and trade liberalization.

By imposing harmful policy conditions, the World Bank and IMF are undercutting poor countries' domestic efforts to meet the MDGs and eliminate poverty. Current economic policy conditionality hurts poor people and undermines countries' locally and nationally defined development priorities; it has already had negative social impacts in many poor countries.

For these reasons, GCAP believes that it is crucial that harmful IMF and WB conditionality not be attached to debt relief, and that donor countries follow through on their original debt relief and aid commitments without imposing new conditions that restrict poor countries from developing their own economies and protecting the livelihoods of their farmers and producers.

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