Debt Cancellation?a Jubilee year?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) took an important step forward at their annual meeting when they cancelled the huge debts of 18 of the poorest countries in the world. The two institutions that are implementing a decision previously taken by the G8 in July, have further announced that the cancellation will be extended to 25 more countries for a total amount of 57 billion USD. We asked Peter Henriot SJ, Director of the Lusaka-based Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, an active supporter of Jubilee Zambia (a national movement for the total cancellation of all Zambia?s foreign debt and the debts of other poor countries) for a first reaction to this decision. Here is his reply: ?We are encouraged because it is a sign that the international Jubilee campaign and allies have accomplished something that was said to be impossible ten years ago, the cancellation of IMF and World Bank debt. At a meeting in the US several years ago, James Wolfensohn, then WB President, told me directly ?You people are unrealistic ? Jubilee is biblical economics and at the WB we practise real world economics. We don?t cancel debts!?. We are also cautious because we don?t yet have details about timelines, targets, amounts, conditions ? nor the extension to other poor countries that deserve cancellation. So we await more details. Finally, we are motivated, because now we will continue to monitor the way our Zambian government uses the freed resources for poverty programmes. Remember, our campaign has always been: ?Debt Cancellation for Poverty Eradication!? So we must work all the harder now!? [HL50903] To learn more about JCTR and Jubilee Zambia, go to: http://www.jctr.org.zm