Centre scrutinises debt cancellation

Edwin Nyirongo
The Nation
August 18, 2005

A faith organisation called Centre for Social Concern (CSC) has formed what it calls Forum for Faith Communities for Debt Cancellation and Trade Justice.

Hastings Kafundu, an economists with CSC, said the centre’s main objective is to mobilise people in the fight [to win] debt cancellation for Malawi.

“The international debt has great impact on our lives, our economy and our well being. The servicing of this debt demands more resources than we spend on education and health,” he said.

Malawi is one of the highly indebted countries in the world, but still it has to pay back the money it owes rich countries while at the same time gather resources to finance development activities and social needs of its people.

Many people and organisations have called upon the G8 countries to write off the debt of poor countries as it has negative impact on the people, especially those that live in rural areas.

So far Malawi is not among the African countries that have qualified for debt cancellation.

Kafundu also noted that some of the debt the country incurred is “odious and illegitimate” and therefore need not be paid. He said some leaders were not utilising the money for the intended purpose but have put the burden on the public (resources) to pay.

Researcher Tobias Jere said the church has been used to spread the campaign because it has a large following and that it has infrastructure where it can convene and discuss the issue.

Jere said in order for the people to understand the motive behind debt cancellation, they are supposed to first of all, know how the budget and the country’s economy work.

The organisation started training the people in Lilongwe and then they went regional. Those trained at regional level will go into districts and those in district will go to rural areas.

Notes compiled by the Centre, titled Africa and the World Trade Organisation, indicate that the organisation mostly tackles issues of trade imbalance and impact of debt on Malawi and Africa as a whole.

The centre notes that African countries are not benefiting from globalization; rather the wealth of the continent (raw materials, petrol, minerals, agriculture, wood, fishing and many more) is being exploited by multinationals without Africans receiving much of the benefits.

Other issues are that the opening of the markets to food imports is destroying local agriculture and jeopardising food security and that industrialised countries want free circulation of their goods, companies and capitals throughout the world but do not allow free movement of people into their countries.

The centre says free trade is not benefiting the poor Malawians as most shops are full of imported goods. The country also suffers in deforestation and closure of some local companies. The few companies that remain pay little salaries to their employees.

“The creation of the World Trade Organisation was to enhance the creation of global wealth and prosperity and promoting the well being of the people of the member countries.

“But up to this day, it has only increased the difficulties of the most vulnerable countries while it has profited the trans-national companies,” says the centre.

Categories: Africa, Malawi, Odious Debts

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