Cancel debt owed by tsunami-hit nations, urges Alliance

Alliance Leader David Ford MLA has welcomed the statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he is seeking to postpone debt charges for countries affected by the tsunami.

However, Mr Ford has called on Gordon Brown to use his influence within the G8 to cancel debts, not just postpone them.

David Ford said:

“The response of the Chancellor to the Jubilee 2000 campaign was an example to every rich western country. As a result of the cancellation by the UK of all debts owed by some of the poorest countries, money was freed for investment in basic services such as healthcare and education.

“Mr Brown has the same opportunity now – to set an example to others. As the UK holds the chair of G8, the world’s richest countries, he has considerable influence.

“Many of the countries affected by the tsunami are not the very poorest. However, they are developing economies which can ill afford the massive costs of both supporting the victims and replacing lost infrastructure.

“The need is for far more than emergency relief. The need now is to provide long-term development assistance which would enable countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia to grow out of poverty and provide for their own people in the future.

“This cannot be done by short-term relief. The Government should commit to the UN aid target of 0.7% of GDP and should encourage the G8 to cancel debt, not just postpone repayments.”

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