Some Opinions on the issue of Debt Relief
It would be a fitting gesture for the year 2000 if all third world debt was written off. In the long-run, everyone would benefit.
Until we, the third world population, get our act together and know the right people to put in positions of responsibility, we should not borrow, as government, any more and the lenders should give us the loans at their own peril. Pay back time, and certainly development, will definitely never come under the current circumstances of irresponsible politics.
Let them off the debt, and spend the money on health and education of their people, to give a better future for the world.
The debts should be cancelled for two reasons:
1. There's no way third world countries can pay off the debts because of the interest rate, and they will be paying this money back for the rest of their lives. Some people may say this is fine, but while they are paying the money to the banks, they are unable to put money into farming, irrigation, medicine.
2. The banks are portrayed as the innocent party in this problem, but they lent money to these countries to enable them to grow/develop a product. These countries were charged high interest rates which they could just afford while the west was buying the product, but eventually the market was swamped and the product was no longer bought. The Third World countries could not afford the payments, hence the debts. Now excuse me, but I do not believe it takes a financial wizard to work out that this was likely to happen.
Yes, write off the debts, which have, in the main, gone into the hands of corrupt governments, their leaders or officials. Any money, which is given to the Third World in future, should be directed as specific projects, direct to the people who will benefit and not government-to-government loans. Meanwhile, freezing the assets of Third World leaders and their fat bank accounts in western banks, and prosecuting them for international fraud would be a good idea.
About debt of poor countries, I hope rich countries will understand that we have to share the richness of our world. The problem is not to pay back, but to balance economy.
Regardless of the suspected, and even proven corruptness of many of the governments concerned, the truth is that until the debts are cancelled, and the IMF's atrocious restructuring programme is abolished, the developing countries have no chance of stepping up from the appalling poverty that is so commonly their lot. It is well past the time when the developed, wealthy, cash-rich world showed an ounce of compassion and remorse for what they bestowed on the developing world.
Why not condition our loans/grants on countries' getting their population under control? After all, overpopulation is often the main cause of their need for help, and also the greatest problem we face as a planet.
It is morally wrong to burden 3rd world countries with crippling debt when arguably the money came from the colonisation and exploitation of those same countries in the first place. However, it is highly important to ensure the money would be spent wisely. The first precondition would be a good financial system and an relatively uncorrupted bureaucracy. Perhaps the money should be spent directly in the country on aid and education programs first.
At first glance, the act of cancelling such debts seems noble and generous. However, if we examine closely, many of these countries are the same ones where corruption and cronyism is at their worst. Time and again, leaders of these countries are the ones that are personally enriched during their time in power. Cancellation of debts sends out a wrong message.
Henry Goh, Singapore
Where did the IMF and the World Bank get the bright idea to give away all that money to developing countries governments, knowing full well the track records those governments had with fund management. Surely it would have made more sense to deal with these governments on policy matters and support the private sectors in those countries.
Eric, Sierra Leone
We must seek to end this form of economic bondage. The issue at hand is not one of Third World corruption amongst the top echelons of their societies, but of the suffering of the poorest of the poor in these countries. The longer this debt is not lifted off the shoulders of these people, many of them, for generations to come, will not be able to live without poverty and suffering.
Alexis, Republic of Singapore
I have no problem with writing off their debts, PROVIDING they can demonstrate good fiscal and social responsibility. Otherwise they will simply go and borrow more and we'll be talking about this same subject again in a few years time.
Mark M, USA
Let's remember one thing. The money which made up these loans, if from government or inter-government agencies came out of the pockets of tax payers in the West. Yes, we should cancel these debts and start again, but there should be a full accounting, on both sides. Let us try and sentence the Kaundas, Mugagbes, Suhartos, Muhathirs etc as well as those in the west who contrived at their fleecing of western taxpayers and shareholders.
Tony, Hong Kong
While in principle debt relief may appear as a tool to reducing poverty, the reality is that blanket debt relief is a pointless, possibly harmful act. Countries which have corrupt and undemocratic governments will not suddenly turn their windfalls into schools and hospitals. Partial debt relief for countries which have shown a commitment to public service provision rather than Swiss bank accounts and fuelling the arms industry of the rich might be a more progressive move.
I disagree that the debt should be written off - as callous as that may sound. After working and travelling extensively in Africa, it became clear to me that vast amounts of aid already provided had not gone to where it was intended. Most of it has ended up in the personal bank accounts of the governments involved. The people by and large, have not benefited from aid due to endemic and systematic corruption. By writing off the debt, we are legitimizing theft of public monies and corruption by governments on a 'feel good' western premise. Until individuals can be made accountable for such large scale thefts, and by implication the continuing suffering of their peoples due to their corrupt practices, no debt write-off should be attempted.
With 40 years of living in Africa I can tell you that if you write off Africa's debts, next week they'll be back demanding (not asking for) more money.
Chris, South Africa
Debt should only be written off for those countries with good records on human rights.
Stefan Rennick, England
Why shouldn't these countries pay back what they borrowed? I think it would be more reasonable to develop a clear way in which each debt can be repaid - if this means charging little or no interest then so be it. We can't just forget about all this money. Either these countries pay it or we do though our taxes.
There are a lot of ignorant points from people complaining that the poorest countries in the world are having to pay money back to the richest. They borrowed the money, and as with any loan, they have to pay it back. Loans also carry interest, which again has to be paid back. If we allowed them to default on these repayments, it would set such a massive precedent that eventually no one would loan them money because they knew they weren't going to see it again; and where would that leave the Third World?
The real problem for poor countries is not the debt but their leaders, who are corrupt to the highest level. If rich countries write off the debt, the people in power will again ask for loans for their country, will waste it away and again this vicious circle will start. These leaders come to power and remain there because they are patronized by the West. It is in their interest that such corrupt people stay in power. Otherwise how will the West get raw material for its luxuries?
No I don't think that the dept should be a total write off. This in no way
has any form of educational value. In fact the wrong signal is sent if you do wipe the slate clean. they have the idea that if it can get away with it once, why not a second or third time too?
D Morgan, UK
They borrowed the money, they should pay it back. If you forgive them their debts, then I presume you'll be campaigning for me to keep my house without keeping up the mortgage-payments too?
Some of the comments that I have read are nearly unbelievable in their ignorance and naivety. Several people spoke about the high interest rates, when in fact they are quite low. This belief that just because they are third world countries they are inherently innocent and good and the west is inherently bad is downright stupid. These countries cannot pay their debts because their leaders either stole or squandered the money, or both. While in principal I have no problem with writing off the debt, to do so without conditions is to aid and abet theft. If these countries want to step into the 20th century, which is doubtful, then they have to realise that any restructuring or write-off of debt will come hand and hand with serious responsibility, which might include the management of their finances to insure the proper spending of any future loans.